Disciplinary case against Brighton officer who ran over pedestrian dropped

Posted On 04 Oct 2019 at 3:05 pm

by Andy Broomfield

Disciplinary action against a police officer who knocked down a pedestrian while responding to what he thought was a terror attack has been dropped.

PC Russell Kyle quit Sussex Police due to the stress of the continuing action after pleading guilty to a criminal charge of careless driving in January.

A gross misconduct hearing in July heard that he had pleaded guilty after being told that a not guilty plea would drag out proceedings for another six months.

But despite being given a conditional discharge by a judge who described his actions as an “unfortunate error”, the disciplinary action continued and he quit due to stress in March.

At the July hearing at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes, the panel made it clear they considered his actions did not amount to gross misconduct.

The IOPC reserved the right to review the charge – and it was eventually dropped altogether in August.

An IOPC spokesperson said: “We considered whether former Sussex Police officer PC Russell Kyle should still face a gross misconduct hearing in connection with a road traffic accident in Brighton in September 2017.

“Having carefully considered the unique facts surrounding this case, most notably the comments made by the chair of the disciplinary panel that misconduct would be the highest sanction, and in light of the officer’s resignation we do not consider it proportionate to progress this matter further.

“As the officer has resigned this matter is now closed.”

In July, Chair Mark Hansen said: “The circuit judge seemed to me to come fairly close to saying this isn’t even careless driving.

“The sentencing remarks but also the recent Home Office press release that indicates that this area of law is subject to an ongoing reviews seems to us a very good reason to review the charge.

“Emergency drivers are held to the same standards as ordinary motorists without full allowance being made for the fact they are acting in the public interest in responding to often quite serious emergency incidents.

“We would urge the reviewing parties to review whether this is misconduct at all. It seems to us there’s a serious question as to whether it’s indeed misconduct.”

The Home Office press release from May announced then Home Secretary Sajid Javid was pursuing a change in the law to give police officers responding to emergencies more protection from lengthy investigation and prosecution.

The incident happened on September 19, 2017, when then PC Kyle was called to men brandishing an axe and a hatchet near the i360 on Brighton seafront.

While driving along Kings Road, he passed onto the wrong side of the road to avoid queuing traffic and hit tourist Gary Paterson who had been walking across a pedestrian crossing. Mr Paterson’s ribs were broken but he made a full recovery.

Nine months later, PC Kyle was charged with dangerous driving after the IOPC completed its investigation.

The IOPC report also concluded he may have committed gross misconduct, which kickstarted the Sussex Police disciplinary process.

However, Mr Paterson later told investigators that it had been an accident, and refused to testify, which led to the charge being downgraded to careless driving.

  1. R McCormack Reply

    He should have just been taken off of driving duties

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