A POLICEMAN has been sacked after using a Taser on a ‘vulnerable’ Dukinfield man who was handcuffed six times.
PC Phillip Smith pleaded guilty to common assault at crown court in 2019 following an investigation into his repeated use of the instrument in June 2018.
Now a disciplinary hearing by Greater Manchester Police into what was described as ‘a gratuitous act to cause pain with no justification,’ has decided to terminate his employment after being told he discharged his Taser twice in the victim’s bedroom, twice in his hall and porch, and twice in his front garden after arriving on a welfare check after the man was described as ‘suicidal.’
He has also been added to the College of Policing Barred List.
A panel decided PC Smith’s actions amounted to gross misconduct following a three-day hearing at GMP headquarters.
Charles Apthorp, representing GMP, said the behaviour amounted to a ‘breach of professional standards and was a discredit to the police service’.
He added: “The officer failed to act with self-control and tolerance towards a vulnerable member of the public and failed to use his powers and authority lawfully.
“Police officers need to show self-control and act in a respectful manner towards colleagues and members of the public.
“Discharge of the Taser was an excessive and disproportionate use of force – there was no justification for the deployment with the victim posing no threat and being a vulnerable person.
“The victim had not committed any offence and there was no reasonable reason to suspect he had.”
The incident was the centre of an independent investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after the incident was referred by GMP.
And Paul Forster, chairman of the panel, said the discharges outside the bedroom were ‘gratuitous’ and with ‘excessive force’.
He said: “PC Smith failed to reassess the situation when the victim was in handcuffs.
“Once outside the bedroom, the victim did not pose a risk, PC Smith failed to give a warning and there was no justification for discharging his Taser.
“PC Smith lost his temper – It was a gratuitous act to cause pain with no justification. PC Smith lost self-control and failed to show the victim respect.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Allen, head of GMP’s Professional Standards Branch, said: “Frontline police officers do an incredibly difficult job, frequently having to run towards danger and face violent individuals who rightly must be arrested to answer for alleged criminal wrongdoing.
“We rightly expect our officers to work within the bounds of the law and accordance with their training. However, this case, the force used was disproportionate, wholly unjust and clearly in breach of the officer’s training.
“Where police officers use no more force than is reasonable and absolutely necessary, they have will have the full backing of GMP.
“In PC Smith’s case, GMP’s Professional Standards Branch could see no justification for the multiple Taser discharges he used against a member of the public suffering from mental health difficulties and so referred the case to the Independent Office of Police Conduct.
“Despite being convicted in the crown court of some but not all the Taser discharges, Smith was provided with a fair disciplinary hearing after GMP alleged his entire use of force contravened the very high standards expected of police officers.
“The disciplinary panel, headed by a Legally Qualified Chair, found the case proven in relation to all the Taser discharges beyond the bedroom, dismissing Smith, and I thank them for reaching what was an obvious decision based on compelling evidence captured on body worn video.
“I also thank the IOPC for the attention they gave to this very necessary investigation.
“Policing is a privilege where we are entrusted to safeguard members of the public and discharge our duties with kindness and compassion, but Smith’s unlawful and excessive use of force against a vulnerable man was the polar opposite of that and secures himself a lifetime ban from policing.”
PC Smith’s crown court case only dealt with the final four discharges, whereas the disciplinary hearing looked at the whole incident.
And after its investigation, IOPC Regional Director Amanda Rowe said: “PC Smith repeatedly Tasered a man at a time when he posed no threat to him or his colleagues.
“While Taser is undoubtedly a valuable tool for keeping both the public and the police safe, there was no justification for its repeated use.”