A former Merseyside Police officer accused of punching a man detained under the Mental Health Act would have been dismissed without notice if he had not already resigned.
Following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), an independently chaired panel found gross misconduct proven against former PC Sam Kane. The standards breached were use of force, discreditable conduct, authority, respect and courtesy, and duties and responsibilities.
A two-day hearing organized by the force concluded yesterday (Tuesday 4 October) and found the officer to have used unnecessary and disproportionate force on the man who was on hospital premises after being detained under the Mental Health Act.
The panel heard how the former officer entered a room in Arrowe Park Hospital on 22 July 2021 and pushed and punched a man in order to stun him and gain compliance.
After restraining the man and handcuffing him, footage shows PC Kane exiting the room with a hand injury. He later informed his sergeant that he had broken his knuckle on his right hand and returned to the police station later that evening with his hand in a sling and his fingers taped together.
A statement obtained from another officer recalled how PC Kane had told him his arm was in a sling because he “couldn’t be bothered to restrain him anymore so I punched him to the face two times to get it over with.” PC Kane later denied making these comments in interview.
During an interview with IOPC investigators and after being shown the CCTV hospital footage of the incident, PC Kane accepted that when he opened the door the man was in fact stood with his arms by his side and his fists were not clenched, after initially stating this was the case.
PC Kane said he could not recall how many times punches were thrown but the man can be heard on body worn footage saying he had been punched three times. An officer’s description of the injuries on the man noted three different locations of marks: the right eyebrow, top of the head and a cut behind the right ear.
Our investigation, which began in August 2021 and concluded in December 2021, followed a mandatory conduct referral from the force. During the course of the investigation we obtained accounts from witnesses and examined CCTV and body worn video footage. The subject police officer was interviewed under criminal and misconduct caution.
We passed our findings to the Crown Prosecution Service, who decided not to authorise any charges in this case.
IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “Police use of force is an area of serious concern for our communities and we recognise the potential for incidents like this to damage public confidence in the police.
“Police officers may only use force when it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances but following our independent investigation, we found a case to answer on the basis that the force used exceeded what was required in the circumstances.
“The outcome sends a clear message that this use of force has no part in policing and he will now be barred from working for the police in future