Officer filmed during Brighton ‘I can’t breathe’ arrest ordered to learn from misconduct

Posted On 21 Dec 2020 at 11:58 am

A Brighton police officer who was filmed pinning a suspect to the ground as he told them he couldn’t breathe has been rapped over the knuckles.

The officer, who has not been named, will be “subject to learning” over his part in the arrest of the 28-year-old man on 7 July.

The incident, which happened in Montpelier Road, came at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests.

These had been sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis in May after a police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes as he said “I can’t breathe”.

Today, the Independent Office for Police Conduct said the officer will work with his supervisor to reflect on what happened, identify any actions required to put the issues right and learn from the incident to prevent reoccurrence.

He was one of several officers involved in the arrest of the man on suspicion of threats to cause criminal damage at an address in Montpelier Road.

The arrest came during a search for a missing 17-year-old girl.

Video footage widely shared on social media showed only part of the incident, which was the restraint of the man.

But our investigation focused on the use of force prior to the events shown in the video and we examined officers’ body worn video to see the full incident.

Our investigation found that the officer had a case to answer for misconduct concerning his use of force and that it would be appropriate to be dealt with by way of reflective practice.

Sussex Police agreed with our findings.

The IOPC’s regional director Graham Beesley said: “This was a thorough and detailed investigation of an incident that attracted significant public interest at the time.

“Our investigation looked at the whole picture of the incident, not solely a social media snapshot, and found the best outcome was reflective practice for the officer over his use of force.”

The video was widely circulated in the city at the time, and led to the then council leader Nancy Platts to request a meeting with Brighton commander Chief Superintendent Nick May.

At the time, Chief Supt May said: “We understand that some people may find these videos shocking but it is important for people to understand the wider context. Both videos show a small part of much longer interactions.

“All police officers are trained to use reasonable force, lawfully and proportionately, if they believe there is an imminent risk of physical harm to either the public or to themselves, and if they cannot otherwise defuse the situation.

“We are reviewing these incidents, including body worn video footage captured at the scene, to identify if any further investigation or learning is required. We have voluntarily advised the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that we intend to refer the most recent matter to them for additional scrutiny.

“It is vital people can trust and have confidence in our policing approach, that we are fair, inclusive and that we treat everyone in our diverse communities equally and with respect. We meet regularly with community groups and independent advisors to seek their feedback and advice on this but accept there is always more work to do.

“We await the outcome of the reviews of these incidents and will take any appropriate action as required.”

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