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PC who punched Tasered suspect dismissed


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Sixth blow to the head deemed 'excessive' by misconduct panel.

Durham Constabulary: Misconduct hearing

Durham Constabulary: Misconduct hearing

Date - 7th August 2018
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
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An officer who punched a man he was detaining six times in the head despite him already being incapacitated by a Taser has been sacked for using excessive force during an arrest.

A Durham Constabulary misconduct hearing was told the temporarily paralysed detainee was struck on five occasions by acting sergeant Daniel Reed and had already been “brought under control”.

Then, when the 43-year-old man was handcuffed, he punched him once more.

The Darlington-based officer denied misconduct at the special hearing. The independent panel found that the behaviour of PC Reed’s superior officer – now-retired Sergeant Gary O'Neill – did not amount to misconduct.

Ex-Sgt O’Neill, who was present during the arrest, was accused of not properly recording or challenging what was alleged to be an excessive use of force by the PC.

Guy Ladenburg, acting for Mr O'Neill, who was not present at last week’s hearing, said the former sergeant had been a Metropolitan Police Service officer who had dealt with the Brixton riots, terrorism, petrol bombs and the Marchioness disaster in his 30-year policing career. Senior police officers had provided character references talking of his integrity and honesty. He denied seeing the punches.

The Tasered man, known only as witness A, was involved in a fracas when he resisted arrest in the Dalesman pub in Darlington in October, 2016.

PC Reed, former Sgt O’Neill and four other officers attended the incident. Officers used pepper spray and then a Taser during their attempts to hold the suspect.

The next day, the suspect complained about the incident after being left with a black eye, swollen lip and other bruises and swelling to the face.

The complaint was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct by the Durham force on November 10, 2016 with the investigation completed the following April.

After examining CCTV footage of the arrest and the statements given by officers and witnesses, and after interviewing PC Reed and ex-Sgt O’Neill under caution, the case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

It authorised the charge of assault causing actual bodily harm against PC Reed.

The case was heard at Sunderland magistrates' court last September where the officer was acquitted but the force subsequently agreed PC Reed had a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to the force used during the arrest.

Durham also agreed that ex-Sgt O’Neill had a case to answer for gross misconduct after allegedly witnessing the force used by PC Reed but not reporting it afterwards.

IOPC regional director Miranda Biddle said that while officers deal with “very difficult, dynamic situations” and “very stressful” incidents, officers receive training and have specialist equipment to handle such encounters.

She added: “The public should expect that excessive force is not used, especially in a case such as this, where the man had already been brought under control using the Taser.

“Our investigation found evidence that the force used by PC Reed was excessive, and the independent panel, who also had the benefit of hearing live evidence this week, agreed that the evidence amounted to gross misconduct.

“The panel decided that the sixth strike to the head was excessive because PC Reed was aware that the man was incapacitated when this blow was delivered”

A Durham force spokesman confirmed that PC Reed has been dismissed from the force “with immediate effect”.

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