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10th July 2020

Science Julian Cole: Petition set up for student paralysed after arrest

Science Julian Cole: Petition set up for student paralysed after arrest

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science Julian Cole

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Julian Cole requires 24-hour care after he suffered a broken neck and a severe spinal injury in 2013

A petition calling for justice for a black student left paralysed and brain-damaged following his arrest has received more than 135,000 signatures.

Julian Cole suffered a broken neck and a severe spinal injury after he was “taken to the ground” by police outside a nightclub in Bedford in 2013.

Three Bedfordshire Police officers were sacked for lying about what happened but no-one has faced criminal charges.

The force says there is no evidence officers are to blame for his injuries.

A spokesman for the CPS said two reviews concluded that “our legal test to proceed with prosecution was not met”.

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Cole family

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Mr Cole was a talented athlete and played for the Watford FC Academy before the arrest

Zayneb Benyoucef started the petition after watching George The Poet talk about the case on Newsnight.

“I was captivated by Julian’s story and was shocked there were no convictions,” the 19-year-old said.

“The petition is about justice and holding people accountable. A lot of people are touched by his story.

“It gives me hope that we can make a difference.”

The journalism student said she felt the Black Lives Matter movement had “shed light on people’s stories that have been hidden”.

“Julian can’t tell his story, so we need to do it for him,” she said.

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The University of Bedfordshire student was studying to become a PE teacher

Rapper Che Lingo has also called for justice for Mr Cole and his family. He worked with Mr Cole at a footwear store about 10 years ago.

In February the musician released his debut single on Idris Elba’s record label – a song called “My Block”, in which he raps about Mr Cole.

Che Lingo said he heard his friend was in hospital soon after the arrest.

“I thought he was in a car accident or been attacked,” he said. “I was thinking the worst – but it was worse than that.”

When Mr Cole was arrested he had been trying to get back into the nightclub after being refused a refund when he was ejected.

The rapper said what happened to his former colleague left him “shaken up”.

“Julian was an unarmed, 5ft 5in (167cm) tall teenager – that is not a threatening body structure.

“How am I supposed to feel safe and feel like the police are protecting me when this can happen to an innocent black teenager who just wanted his money back from a nightclub?”

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Mr Cole was injured outside the former Elements nightclub on Mill Street in Bedford on 6 May 2013

In 2018 a police misconduct hearing found three officers lied in their statements about Mr Cole’s condition during his arrest and also failed to carry out adequate welfare checks, but none of the officers were accused of causing his injuries.

Mr Cole, at the time a 19-year-old sports science student, was injured after being “taken to the ground” by bouncers and then police officers, the hearing was told.

His alcohol level was below the legal limit to drive and there was no mention of any other drugs involved, the hearing was also told.

Mr Cole was cuffed “face down” and CCTV showed officers dragging him to a police van as his legs appeared to be trailing behind him. He was taken to a police station and then transferred to hospital.

Assistant Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police Jackie Sebire said: “It is clear that no evidence was found that any of the officers involved were in any way to blame for the catastrophic injuries suffered by Mr Cole.”

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “We have experienced incidents in Bedfordshire which have caused concerns and damaged relations with some of our communities, and we have worked hard to be open and transparent in the formal outcomes of these cases.”

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