Hertfordshire police officer sacked after ‘unnecessary, disproportionate and unacceptable’ Hatfield arrest

PUBLISHED: 17:25 26 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:38 26 October 2020

A man suspected of a stabbing in Cottonmill remains at large despite police efforts. Picture: Debbie White

A man suspected of a stabbing in Cottonmill remains at large despite police efforts. Picture: Debbie White

Archant

A police officer has been sacked for kicking a man in the head during an arrest in Hatfield.

The Independent Police Misconduct Panel, held from October 19 to 21, found PC Warren Potter’s arrest of a ‘Mr JB’ was “deemed totally unnecessary, disproportionate and unacceptable”.

The panel heard that on January 13, ex-PC Potter was on duty in full uniform driving a marked police van and answered a call for assistance from colleagues who had detained a man.

While Mr JB was on the ground and handcuffed, and restrained by four other officers, Mr Potter placed his right foot on Mr JB’s head for 24 seconds.

He also in two short moments put most or all of his bodyweight on his right foot, and used his left foot to deliver a kick to Mr JB’s head.

The arrested man suffered “minimal” physical harm but the panel concluded it could have been “significant”.

The panel said: “There were a number of aggravating features to the conduct as found. The explanation given by the officer as to why he had not subsequently completed a Use of Force form was not accepted.

“The panel found that both allegations were proved, and they engaged the three Standards of Professional Behaviour as alleged. The panel determined that the totality of the conduct as found amounted to gross misconduct because it involved a gross misuse of force towards a vulnerable detainee and would impact directly on public confidence.”

The panel also said the response was also not proportionate even though JB “had been abusive” and spat at police officers.

Mr Potter has been dismissed without notice as it was judged “appropriate given the actual or potential reputational harm and the need to maintain public confidence in the police as a profession”.

Evidence in the form of five body-worn cameras and six police officer witnesses at the hearing was used to judge the case.

Mr Potter denied that his actions amounted to “gross misconduct” and maintained that he believed Mr JB to have a contagious disease, which posed an immediate threat to colleagues, so the use of force was “reasonable, proportionate and necessary in all the circumstances”.


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