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'Exemplary' officer cleared of wrongdoing after 'astonishing' IOPC-ordered misconduct hearing


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Off-duty inspector had restrained an aggressive drunk.

The hearing took place at force HQ

An "exemplary" officer accused of injuring a drunk man he was trying to arrest while off-duty has been cleared of wrongdoing almost three years after the incident in a case described as "astonishing" by a misconduct panel.

Derbyshire Constabulary’s Inspector Matthew Mozley was walking his dog when he came across Anthony Cook lying in a hedge behind a medical centre.

The pair exchanged words before Insp Mozley, who was then a sergeant in the force's firearms unit, detained the “very aggressive” Mr Cook face-down on the ground, with the help of a retired officer who lived nearby.

After on-duty officers arrived and took Mr Cook away, he was found to have a broken collarbone, torn thumb ligament, and bruising to his face.

Insp Mozley was investigated by his force’s professional standards department and the Crown Prosecution Service with both deciding he had done nothing wrong.

Despite that, the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) chose to pursue Insp Mozley after Mr Cook appealed - and he was forced to face a gross misconduct hearing where he was accused of using “excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable force”.

However, the case was thrown out this week at Derbyshire Police Headquarters in Ripley – with panel chair Jane Jones saying there was "no evidence beyond an assumption" that the officer had caused the injuries.

She told Insp Mozley he was “completely vindicated”, adding: “He is clearly a first class officer who embodies the very best of Derbyshire Constabulary, both on and off duty. He acted as the public might hope. 

“That he finds himself in a public conduct hearing almost three years later is astounding."

Insp Mozley's Police Federation representative said the case was a "witch hunt" and could have cost the officer his job for "doing his civic duty".

He was accused of holding Mr Cook face down for half-an-hour during the May 2015 incident in the town of Heanor, grabbing his hand, holding his arms, and kneeling on his back and shoulder.

Liz Briggs, representing the force, which had been ordered by the IOPC to conduct the hearing, said: “All witnesses say Mr Cook was calm, compliant and not struggling, but despite that he was restrained in the prone position for 30 minutes. The only evidence of aggression was at the start of the incident.

“There are other options that could have been available given the compliant behaviour of Mr Cook. The only time it appears the officer spoke to him is just before the officers attended, when he asked him his name.”

Insp Mozley was helped during the incident by retired police officer Gordon Worsencroft, who restrained Mr Cook while the officer spoke to a 999 operator, and went to retrieve his dog.

Mrs Briggs added: “There is no rational explanation as to how these injuries came about.

“The appropriate authority would say either the officer caused them, or Mr Worsencroft, and if it was Mr Worsencroft the officer would have seen and accounted for him using that force.”

However Matthew Butt, representing Insp Mozley, urged the panel to dismiss the case.

He said Insp Mozley had personally restrained Mr Cook, who has since died in circumstances unrelated to the incident, for a “maximum” of 20 minutes, and said there was no evidence he caused the injuries. 

Mr Butt added: “The evidence is Mr Cook fell a number of times to the ground. It is entirely possible he sustained injuries in these falls. The evidence is he was lying in the undergrowth with visible injuries to his body. 

“We are not dealing with a training scenario. This is an off duty officer who chose to step in and assist members of the public who needed help.

“He had no incapacitant spray, no protection of colleagues. He was in a position where he had to do something.

He added: “It is inconceivable this case can continue.”

In a recording of a 999 call played to the hearing, a witness said Mr Cook was “very aggressive”, adding: “Someone is restraining him because he tried to hit another man.”

The caller then handed the phone to Insp Mozley, who told the operator: “He is worrying passers-by, children, parents with prams. He came towards me.

“He’s been nicked. He’s perfectly calm. He tried to grab my wrist.”

One of the officers who arrived to take Mr Cook away told the hearing he had seen “nothing at all” to concern him regarding Insp Mozley’s restraint of Mr Cook.

In a statement after the hearing, Deputy Chief Constable Gary Knighton, of Derbyshire Police, said: “Our own local investigation into this matter found that Inspector Mozley had no case to answer. 

“The matter was also considered by the Crown Prosecution Service, who concurred that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Inspector Mozley.

“Despite this, the force was directed to hold [the] panel by the IOPC after we disagreed with their recommendation that the force should hold gross misconduct proceedings. 

“The panel, which was chaired by an independent, legally-qualified member, found that there was no evidence that the injuries sustained by Mr Cook were caused during the restraint by Inspector Mozley; this has always been the view of the force based upon the investigation that we initially conducted.”

Tony Wetton, chairman of the Derbyshire Police Federation said: "Matthew is an exemplary officer who acted in an exemplary way.

"He has suffered stress, anxiety and misery with this hanging over him.

"There was an investigation by the force at the time, and it was found there was no case to answer. Professional Standards looked at it twice, and the CPS looked at it three times. Every time, it was found there was no case to answer. 

"It feels like the force has been put in a professionally embarrassing position by the IOPC. They ignored the advice. 

"Matthew could have lost his job for doing his civic duty while off-duty. It is outrageous.”

Full Story - Police Oracle

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What an absolute disgrace. It’s a situation that any one of us could find ourselves in. 

Particularly whilst off duty even if someone did seem like they’d calmed down if I’d arrested them they’d still be getting restrained until colleagues arrived. There is no other way to ensure no one is assaulted or the person doesn’t make off. 

From reading through the article witch hunt seems to sum it up well.

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The chairing of panels by a legally qualified person is starting to seem like not such a bad thing.

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All this does is create a culture where people either won't get involved or be too hands off and end up getting assaulted.

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"He was accused of holding Mr Cook face down for half-an-hour during the May 2015 incident in the town of Heanor, grabbing his hand, holding his arms, and kneeling on his back and shoulder."

so he is accused of arresting someone? ?

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