An inquest into the death of a man who died after being detained by police and taken into custody, was opened today.
Leon Briggs, 39, a father of two, was arrested in Marsh Road, Luton on November 4 last year.
He was taken to Luton Police Station but later had to be rushed to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital, where he died.
His death is now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Five police officers and two members of civilian staff have been interviewed under criminal caution by IPCC investigators on suspicion of offences, including gross negligence, manslaughter, misconduct in a public office and offences under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
In a hearing lasting just 3 minutes, the coroner said he was still waiting for the cause of Leon's death to be determined and was awaiting the results of histology and toxicology tests, but he said he was able to release Leon's body to his family.
The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police has denied 'closing ranks' after the death of a man in custody.
Leon Briggs died at Luton police station after being detained under the Mental Health Act.
Friends and family of Mr Briggs demanded answers from the force at a public meeting in Luton last night. Five police officers and two support staff have been suspended while an investigation is carried out.
Five police officers and two support staff who are under investigation after the death of a man in custody at Luton police station were tonight suspended from duty.
Bedfordshire Police chief constable Colette Paul said the suspension "in no way jumps to any conclusion" about the investigation currently being carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) police watchdog.
Mr Briggs, 39, described by his family as a "kind, loyal, intelligent" father, died after being detained at Luton police station under the Mental Health Act on Monday.
The suspension has been made after an initial assessment by the IPCC, Ms Paul said.
"Their suspension in no way jumps to any conclusion about the outcome of the investigation, but ensures absolute assurance of neutrality and transparency as the IPCC investigation progresses. The suspension of each member of staff will remain under constant review.
"We continue to co-operate with the investigation to help provide Mr Briggs' family, the Coroner and the IPCC with accurate information about how and why Mr Briggs died."
– Bedfordshire Police chief constable Colette Paul
The officers under investigation following the death of Leon Briggs have today been suspended from duty following an initial assessment by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Their suspension in no way jumps to any conclusion about the outcome of the investigation but ensures absolute assurance of neutrality and transparency as the IPCC investigation progresses. The suspension of each member of staff will remain under constant review.
We continue to co-operate with the investigation to help provide Mr Briggs’ family, the Coroner and the IPCC with accurate information about how and why Mr Briggs died.
I want to express my sympathy to the family of Leon Briggs at this difficult time. Mr Briggs’ family are being supported by IPCC family liaison managers at this sad time.Colette Paul Chief Constable.
Leon Briggs's family said they were deeply shocked by his sudden death. They added: "Leon was a loving father, son and brother. He was a kind, loyal, intelligent, caring person who put his family and others first.
"We have a lot of questions about why he was put through this terrifying ordeal and why he died. We feel he has been let down by the authorities at a time when he should have been provided with specialist care and support."
The Independent Police Complaints Commission says it will be looking into whether police officers should face criminal investigation after the death of 39-year-old Leon Briggs in custody.
At this stage we believe there is an indication that potential criminal offences may have been committed including gross negligence and/or unlawful act manslaughter, misconduct in public office, and/or offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974".
"We will also be considering whether any potential disciplinary offences have been committed."