Five police officers could face criminal charges three years after a student was left with a severed spinal cord and in a vegetative state after being arrested and restrained.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced that out of six Bedfordshire police officers being investigated, five have been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following an investigation into the events surrounding the arrest of Julian Cole outside a nightclub in Bedford on 6 May 2013. He was 19 at the time.
The IPCC report found that all five police officers may have a case to answer for gross misconduct in the manner they carried out their duties and responsibilities, and four could face charges relating to their honesty and integrity. One officer could face a case of misconduct for the use of force, but this is not believed to be related to Cole's injury.
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Cole's mother Claudia said she and her family welcomed the IPCC's announcement. She said it had been "the hardest three years" waiting for the investigation to conclude and hoped for a swift decision by the CPS.
"Following contact with police officers that night, he has been left paralysed and in a vegetative state and he will need 24-hour care for as long as he lives," she said. "Julian is still alive, but it can not be said that he is really living."
Cole was a sport science student and would have graduated from Bedfordshire University this year. "He never got a chance to do that," his mother said. "Julian had big dreams, big ambitions, but all of those are dashed. We miss him so much every day.
"We also want to see justice for Julian, it will not bring him back, but we hope the CPS makes a swift decision on criminal prosecutions against the officers."
The Cole family have been campaigning to find out what happened the night Julian was arrested. They also set up a Facebook page called the Cole Family Truth Campaign, which raises issues of police brutality in the UK.
The family’s solicitor Jules Carey said that a three-year investigation had been torturous for Cole's relatives.
"The delays also risk witnesses disappearing and memories fading, which in turn limits the prospects of accountability, getting justice, and police forces learning crucial lessons," he said. "The family therefore call on the CPS to avoid further delay and make a prompt decision."
IPCC deputy chair Sarah Green said the investigation has been complex and lengthy, and involved the examination of over 900 documents, interviews with witnesses, a number of medical expert opinions, CCTV trawls, and forensic analysis.
"We are now satisfied we have gathered all the available evidence to enable the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether or not charges should follow," Green said. "We have kept Mr Cole’s family and Bedfordshire police updated on our progress."
Fiona Rutherford is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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