An Essex Police officer was today (28 November) convicted of assault by beating for using unnecessary force against a man after his colleagues had arrested and handcuffed him.
The verdict follows an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Police Constable Charlie Thompson (25), who is attached to the local community unit in Basildon, was found guilty of the charge at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court, following a two-day trial. He has been sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for one year, and 100 hours unpaid work during that year.
The court heard that PC Thompson had responded to a report by other officers that they had detained a man on suspicion of assaulting an officer on the A127, near the Mayflower Retail Park (SS14), after they had stopped him for a suspected driving offence on 19 January, 2022. No charges were brought against the man following the incident.
Footage played to the court in evidence showed when PC Thompson arrived the man was seated on the ground in handcuffs to the rear, with another officer standing above him. PC Thompson forced the man’s head to the ground and struck him to the side with his elbow, while the man protested that he was not resisting police. The man had his legs strapped by another officer and was brought back to a seated position, before PC Thompson pushed him to the ground a second time.
When delivering the verdict District Judge Christopher Williams noted police officers do not have a license to act aggressively. He said he failed to accept the man posed any threat to PC Thompson or that the officer honestly believed he did. He said he struggled to see the necessity for any of the force that was used and noted the second push was embarrassing, demeaning and a total abuse of position.
IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “Police officers may only use force when it is necessary, proportionate, and reasonable in the circumstances. There was no justification for PC Thompson to use force against the man, who was not resisting in any way and posed no genuine risk to PC Thompson or his colleagues. His actions brought great distress to the man and he has rightly been held to account.”
We began our investigation in February 2022 following a mandatory conduct referral from Essex Police, which concluded in August. Investigators interviewed PC Thompson, under criminal and misconduct caution, and the man who was arrested. Body-worn video was reviewed and statements were taken from the other officers present. In June, we passed a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which authorized the charge.
Now the criminal trial has concluded, the force will hold a misconduct hearing for PC Thompson after our investigation found he had a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to the force he used against the man and the way he treated him, including using offensive language.