19/12/2018

PSNI Officer Who Punched Man In Face Cleared Of Misconduct

A police officer who punched a man in the face during his arrest has been cleared of misconduct by the Police Ombudsman's Office.

The incident took place at a house in County Down in April, when the complainant was struck in the face and head whilst hiding in a cubby hole, according to the watchdog.

The man later complained of oppressive behaviour, stating that he suffered a sore chin, a black eye, and bruising to his forehead and left ear during the alleged assault.

Staff at the Ombudsman's office examined custody records, photographs and medical forms, police officers' notebook entries, body worn video, and external medical and dental records.

The officer concerned was also questioned under criminal caution.

There was no body worn footage of the actual incident in question, but in a video recorded by officers in another room of the house, another man was heard stating "don't be hitting my friend".

This individual failed to come forward to make a witness statement.
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The accused constable admitted striking the man, but claimed it was in retaliation after he was approached aggressively at the top of the stairs.

He also claimed that the punch was designed to stunt the man and avoid an altercation which had the potential of causing them both to fall down the stairs, an account which was corroborated by his colleague.

A forensic medical officer who examined the constable after the incident found that injuries to his hand were consistent with a 'one strike' mark.

Custody records showed that the complainant declined to attend the medical room and was instead taken to A&E where the examining doctor noted small cuts to the mouth and 'mild tenderness' to the jaw.

A dental surgeon assessed the man following his release and confirmed that a fractured tooth had to be extracted, but said no other teeth were loose.

The Police Ombudsman investigators concluded that the available evidence did not back up claims that he was struck several times.

They concluded that there was no evidence to show the police officer had used excessive or unreasonable force.



(JG/CM)

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