THE family of a man who was handcuffed and restrained by police before he died are demanding answers over his death.

Leighton Jones, a 30-year-old father, was restrained by police near his home in Cardiff in the early hours of Saturday, June 19. It was originally reported that he had died at the scene but his family say police told them he died later, at hospital, of a heart attack.

Mobile phone footage, filmed by passers-by, shows a man being held by police before officers are seen performing CPR.

Since the footage was shared via social media, it has been alleged a Taser was used but police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which is investigating the incident, has said there is no evidence at this stage to support that claim.

Brother Lawrence Cassim, 24, said he and mother Nethera Cassim, have instructed a solicitor to help them discover how – and when – Leighton died and answers to other questions they have about his final hours.

“We don’t know and that’s why we need help,” Lawrence told The National.

South Wales Police said the sudden death appeared to be a “medical episode with no suspicious circumstances” but that it had referred the matter to the IOPC.

The complaints body launched an independent investigation on Saturday.

The IOPC originally stated Leighton died at the scene, where he was restrained by police, yards from his home in Glyn Collen, Pentwyn, at about 1am on Saturday. But in a later statement, issued on Tuesday, June 22, it said he died at the nearby University Hospital of Wales where he was pronounced dead shortly after 2.30am.

The National Wales: Tributes at Glyn Collen, Pentwyn, Cardiff

The family say police told them Leighton died at hospital but his neighbours in Glyn Collen claim he died outside the flats. They have also viewed footage, filmed by a member of the public, which they believe indicates he had died near his flat where CPR had been performed.

“We’ve been told two stories, one by the police and one by the neighbours,” said Lawrence. “We were told by the police they picked him up on the side of the road and an ambulance took him to hospital and he later died in hospital at 2.34am of a heart attack. The neighbours say the police restrained him and handcuffed him.”

An ambulance was called after police had arrived at the scene and took Leighton to hospital. The IOPC has said the ambulance was called “due to the man’s poor condition, which subsequently deteriorated”.

Lawrence said he has viewed video footage which makes him believe his brother died at the scene. He identified his brother’s body and said he isn’t satisfied with explanations, offered by the police and the IOPC, about marks around his brother’s neck.

The IOPC has confirmed Leighton was restrained and handcuffed. It said police officers have told them this was for his own protection and he hadn’t been arrested during the incident.

Police were called shortly after 1am on Saturday to a man in distress and possibly injured, according to the IOPC, which said officers came across a man who appeared unwell.

But Lawrence said he doesn’t understand why his brother was restrained: “He needed medical attention. He doesn’t need to be cuffed and restrained.”

He added: “Why would five police go to a distressed man who was injured?”

Lawrence said a neighbour had told him he had let Leighton into the block of flats at around 11.30pm to 12am and that he understood his brother had been to a garage forecourt, opposite where he died, sometime in the evening to buy soft drinks. He also said he has been told his brother wasn’t behaving in an aggressive manner at the time.

He said he doesn’t know what his brother was doing on Friday night and early Saturday and thinks he could have been in his flat, where he lived alone, after he’d been seen returning to the block.

READ MORE:

The IOPC has said it will be reviewing footage captured on police body-worn cameras. Lawrence said the family fears it may not be allowed to view that footage. The IOPC says a decision to release bodycam footage lies with the coroner.

“We possibly won’t be shown the body cam footage, that’s what the IOPC have said and that can’t be right,” said Lawrence.

“We believe in this day and age footage can be edited so we want to see it with no clips and skips. We want to see the whole thing.”

Leighton’s death is the third in Wales this year to be subject to an IOPC investigation following restraint or arrest prior to a death and the second involving South Wales Police.

In January 24-year-old Mohamud Hassan died shortly after his release from custody at Cardiff Bay police station and the IOPC has issued notices to inform some South Wales Police officers their conduct is under investigation, which it says does not necessarily mean an officer has committed any wrongdoing.

In Newport, Gwent Police is being investigated by the IOPC following the death of Moyied Bashir, 29, in February after he had been restrained by officers.

In both cases there have been calls for the police body cam footage to be made available though police have said it cannot be shared while the IOPC is investigating.

The National Wales: Tributes at the scene in Glyn Collen, Pentwyn Cardiff

Since Leighton’s death floral tributes, candles, balloons and a father’s day card have been placed at the scene in Glyn Collen and a large Liverpool FC flag tied between two trees in tribute to the football fan.

Lawrence said his brother was devoted to his family, which also included his partner and her daughter, who he became a father to, and the couple’s four-year-old son. Leighton’s first child was stillborn 13 years ago.

“We’re fully bereaved,” said Lawrence: “I loved my brother, we all loved my brother so much and miss him so much he is never walking alone.”

A memorial was held at Anderson Fields, in Adamsdown, where

the brothers had grown up in Cardiff, on Thursday and friends,

many in Liverpool shirts, released balloons in memory of Leighton and held red smoke bombs.

The National Wales: A memorial was held for Leighton Jones at Anderson Park, Adamsdown, Cardiff on June 23, 2021

Lawrence said: “He loved his kids and his family and football and all his friends. He would do anything for any one of them, he would do without to make sure we had stuff.

“He was a straight family man, all he cared about was his family.”

IOPC director for Wales Catrin Evans said: “Our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends at this incredibly sad time.

“We understand the concern in the local community as a result of this incident, in part due to footage that has been shared online. That is why it is important that a thorough independent investigation is carried out to ensure we understand the full circumstances.

“This work is in its infancy and we will be speaking to witnesses as well as reviewing body-worn video footage of the incident as part of our investigation.

“We are aware of reports on social media that a Taser was used during the incident. While a Taser audit has yet to be carried out, from analysis of the scene and the video evidence seen so far, there is no evidence at this stage that a Taser was used.”

A fundraising page, to support the family's funeral costs, has already received more than £900 in donations. It can be found here.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.