Police restraint contributed to Leon Briggs death, jury discovers

The way in which law enforcement officer limited a man with drug-induced psychosis “more than minimally” added to his death in Luton in 2013, an inquest jury in Milton Keynes has actually found by unanimous decision.

Leon Briggs, a 39-year-old dad of two, of blended ethnic background, was a truck motorist and likewise taught computer system skills to older people. His family explained him as “a caring sibling and dad, caring and genuine”.

He was detained under the Mental Health Act and required to Luton police station on 4 November 2013 Briggs passed away around two hours later on at Luton & Dunstable healthcare facility as a result of “amphetamine intoxication in association with vulnerable restraint and extended struggling”, with a secondary cause of heart problem, the senior coroner Emma Whitting formerly stated. His household said the fact that the inquest, which began on 4 January 2021, had taken seven years to happen intensified their grief and distress over his loss.

The 10 members of the jury were asked to think about both unlawful killing and neglect. It turned down the unlawful killing and found disregard. The jury found “a series of omissions and failures” by Bedfordshire police and East of England ambulance service. The ambulance service acknowledged a series of failings before the jury began its deliberations including a failure to evaluate Briggs, interaction failures and a failure to acknowledge and treat Briggs as a medical emergency situation.

The jury was asked to address 40 questions and in their answers identified several failings. They discovered that making use of force on Briggs in the street, failure to identify that he had actually ended up being a medical emergency, failure to do a correct handover when Briggs reached Luton police station, failure to realise that he was not medically fit to be apprehended and failure to monitor him appropriately more than minimally contributed to his death. It found that improper weight or pressure was used to Briggs.

The jury also discovered that a psychostimulant-induced psychotic disorder and cardiovascular disease more than minimally contributed to Briggs’ death. It also discovered that police officers thought that it was needed to utilize force on Briggs which the use of force on Briggs in the scenarios was reasonable.

The jury thought about conclusions of illegal killing and neglect. Unlawful killing conclusions in inquests are rare.

The inquest heard evidence from his mom, Margaret Briggs, about the degeneration in his mental health in the months and weeks prior to his death and his household’s mounting concern about this. He believed lasers were being fired at him and spiders were being put through his letterbox. He had actually agreed to go to hospital to seek aid on the day he died.

On the day of his death, 4 November 2013, cops were called after Briggs was witnessed acting strangely, walking and avoiding along the street, moving in and out of stores and weaving in and out of traffic.

At around 2pm that day he was limited on his front in a vulnerable position in the street in Luton, at the junction of Marsh Road and Willow Method. His hands were handcuffed behind his back and his legs were connected with straps.

The video footage of the restraint in the street does not clearly show this restraint. However, Briggs can be seen being brought face down into a paddy wagon.

A 2nd piece of video then reveals him at the police station at around 2.25 pm where he can be heard consistently shouting “no”. He is seen being placed face down in an authorities cell and the handcuffs and leg restraints were eliminated. Quickly later on he fell silent. Police officers can be heard asking if he is all right.

3 minutes later on the cell door was opened and after that an ambulance was called. He was required to Luton & Dunstable health center at around 3pm and noticable dead at 4.14 pm.

He was detained under area 136 of the Mental Health Act, which permits authorities to remove a person of issue from a public place and hold them somewhere safe.

Whitting, the senior coroner for Bedfordshire and Luton, said no family must have to wait that long to discover how their liked one had passed away.

Witnesses to the police restraint in the street offered proof about the distressed state Briggs remained in while cops limited him.

Alex Bennett, an estate representative, said he had actually seen a law enforcement officer sit on Briggs’ lower back or legs. He said Briggs was struggling or “groaning with a tip of a scream in it” which the restraint had appeared to make Briggs more distressed.

Wendy Hamilton, who was shopping at the time, told the hearing that Briggs was lifted into the police van “deal with down” as if he was a bag of potatoes “or like they were getting a pet”.

A third witness, Raja Khan, said he did not see Briggs being violent.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (at the time the Independent Police Complaints Commission) referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service in March 2016 to think about manslaughter charges. But in 2018 the CPS said no additional action would be taken. In February 2020 Bedfordshire cops was because of carry out a gross misbehavior hearing versus different officers associated with the occurrence.

There were claims that 3 policemans had breached expert requirements worrying usage of force and five officers had breached standards relating to their responsibilities and responsibilities. Nevertheless, Bedfordshire cops said they would not provide any evidence versus their officers, so the IOPC had to withdraw the instructions of misconduct and the hearing did not proceed.

Anita Sharma, head of casework at Inquest, who has worked closely with the household, stated: “This damning conclusion is an essential acknowledgment of the severity of the system-wide failures. The police will state that seven years on things have actually changed. Why then are black men still subject to disproportionate use of force by authorities? Why are they most likely to die after police contact particularly when in a mental health crisis? And why have the authorities withstood analysis and responsibility considering that his death by disregard?”

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