A police officer broke down in tears this morning as he recounted the moment he hit a pedestrian while speeding to an emergency.
PC Richard Harris is facing a charge of gross misconduct at a Sussex Police disciplinary hearing this week over his driving before his car hit pedestrian David Ormesher at the junction of Edward Street and Devonshire Place.
PC Harris and his passenger PC Samantha Cooper got out and gave first aid, but Mr Ormesher died shortly afterwards.
On Monday, the panel heard PC Harris was travelling at speeds of up to 70mph while on his way to a woman in the water near the Palace Pier at 1am on August 25, 2017.
Today, his voice broke as he recounted what happened in the moments before Mr Ormersher, 79, was hit.
He said: “I have been thinking about this every minute of every day for the last three years.
“He carried on walking and I thought I could carry on doing what I was doing – I think he would have been out of the way.
“Because he stopped I veered left.
“He was in my peripheral vision. I could just see this figure just getting bigger and I was obviously braking because I needed to get out of the way.
“Whatever else went out of the window, I just wanted to get out of his way, that’s all I was worried about.
“There was a bang and PC Cooper screamed.”
PC Samantha Cooper told the panel on Monday the journey had been so “plain sailing” up until that point she could have made a cup of tea and that she felt very safe when PC Harris was driving.
She also said she was “disgusted” that PC Harris subsequently became under criminal investigation. The CPS has since decided not to bring criminal charges.
The panel also heard that while he was travelling along Eastern Road, messages came over he radio
PC Harris today said he thought the incident he was speeding to was very urgent.
He said: “The more experienced you are the more you get a feel for what’s urgent.
“This was a genuine one, there was a female in crisis, a female who’s in the sea and her life is in danger.
“I didn’t hear anything about anyone coming out of the sea. I heard a woman in the sea had been joined by two officers who were trying to help her.
“We don’t have training in water rescues, we are not the coastguard or lifeguards.
“We don’t know how this woman is going to react, I don’t know the capabilities of the officers at the scene.
“Now we have potentially got three people who are at risk of shock, one who may be in a critical condition and two who may be going that way.”
The IOPC completed its investigation in August 2018 and referred it to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
However, after reviewing the case for just over a year, the CPS decided not to bring criminal charges in September 2019.
In November last year, Mr Ormesher’s family exercised their right to a Victim’s Right of Review. In April this year the review was completed by the CPS with the same result – no charge.
The panel, Chiew Yin Jones LQC, Chief Superintendent Jane Derrick and independent member Susannah Dengate, are due to sit for five days this week to hear evidence and make a decision.
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