Cop who punched unarmed man’s head 12 times ‘didn’t commit misconduct’
Police were accused of a ‘completely unnecessary use of force’ when they arrested brothers Nathan and Harvey Jackson
A police officer who punched an unarmed suspect ‘around 12 times’ did not commit misconduct, an internal investigation has found.
Avon and Somerset Police were accused of a ‘completely unnecessary use of force’ when they arrested brothers Nathan and Harvey Jackson on March 20.
The pair were suspected of stealing two dogs from a woman’s home in Bedminster Down, Bristol earlier that day.
A video shows the men being tasered after armed police descended onto the scene. One man can be heard saying he had a ‘bad heart’ and making distressing calls for an ambulance.
Three people who saw the arrest expressed concerns over how it was handled.
The suspects were tasered after they defied the officers’ shouts to put their hands up and get on the ground.
Witnesses said that once the suspects were on the floor, one of the officer’s ‘repeatedly punched’ one of the men in the head.
‘I saw the officer going back and forth with their forearm extremely vigorously five or six times, possibly more. This was well after the man had been incapacitated,’ one man, 41, told Bristol Live.
Harvey Jackson, 33 of was subsequently charged and jailed for possession of an offensive weapon in a public place (Picture: Avon and Somerset Police)
Nathan Jackson, 37, was jailed for the same offence as his brother (Picture: Avon and Somerset Police)
‘Afterwards the man was saying “why did you punch me in the head” and “there was no need to punch me in the head”.’
A police report into the arrest confirmed that an officer punched the suspect ‘around 12 times’ while telling him to put his hand out.
These strikes ‘were jab like, rather than full blown punches and ceased once they had had the desired effect’ of preventing criminal actions and injuries to officers, the investigation found.
Police said that the suspects were both unarmed when arrested. However, a report said officers were aware the suspects had been armed earlier that day and had an ‘honestly held belief’ they were in ‘immediate danger of harm’.
The probe concluded ‘the service level was acceptable’ and no action will be taken against any officers.
However, the woman who made the formal complaint remains unconvinced there was a need to punch the suspect 12 times and is considering an appeal.
‘The guy had been taken to ground and had five officers restraining him’, she said.
‘Why, if there were five people on him, did the officer needed to punch him so many times in the head?’
Another witness said: ‘No matter what the men had done, I witnessed the arrest and felt it was over-the-top use of force and weaponry by the police.’
The robbery charges against the Jacksons were later dropped but the pair both pleaded guilty to possession of a knife in relation to the incident.
They were jailed for a combined 21 months when they appeared at Bristol Crown Court on May 24.
The report by the Professional Standards Department said that both men had been ordered to get on the ground before they were tasered. It said the taser had no effect on one of the men and he was restrained ‘which included the use of punches to his head’.
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The officer who punched the suspect – known only as PC A – said he was ‘actively moving his arm in an attempt to resist handcuffing’.
The report said: ‘[PC A] states he was giving him commands to put his arms out to the side. He then heard [another PC] say she had lost control of the handcuffs.
‘At that point, [PC A] feared for the safety of his colleagues and himself, as he had an honest held belief the man was either reaching for a weapon or he was going to use the handcuffs as a weapon against officers.
‘The man continued to move his left hand around out of view near his stomach and waistband. [PC A] struck him to the right side of his head a number of times with a clenched fist, while continually commanding him to put his arms out to the side which he did not do.
‘On the last strike the man turned his head towards [PC A] and [PC A] believes he caught him on his cheek or nose, but cannot be certain. [The suspect] then stopped resisting and handcuffs were applied.
‘The man complained he could not breathe so [PC A] rolled him onto his side. He tried to calm him down but he was shouting lots of abuse.
‘He was arrested, and complained a few times of being dizzy, so [PC A] laid him on his side so if he did pass out he would not hit his head. The man then sat up of his own accord.’
The force said it is not yet able to release the bodycam footage because the complainant may decide to appeal the findings of the investigation.
An Avon and Somerset police spokeswoman said: ‘On Saturday, March 20, at just after 12.30pm, we received a report of a robbery in the Bedminster Down area of Bristol in which weapons were reportedly seen. Due to that information, armed officers were deployed and a car was stopped on Ashley Street at around 4.30pm.
‘Two men were arrested and taken into custody. During the arrest a taser was discharged.
‘Following the incident, concerns were raised by a witness about the level of the police response and an investigation was subsequently carried out by our Professional Standards Department.
‘Body worn footage captured by officers at the scene was scrutinised as part of our enquiries.
‘The investigation has now concluded and found our response to be proportionate to the threat level identified. No individual misconduct was found.’
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