An Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation has concluded that a Metropolitan Police officer – accused on social media of ‘beating up’ a 70-year-old male – acted appropriately.
A partial clip of the incident, filmed and recorded by a bystander, was uploaded to social media and went viral. The clip led the Metropolitan Police to refer the incident to the IOPC.
On 13th September 2021, a 70-year-old male was stopped by the police on Blyth Road in Bromley, south-east London, after officers spotted his brake light was defective.
However, shortly after being stopped, the male turned hostile towards the officer, and a struggle ensued.
The partial clip uploaded to social media showed only the struggle between the male and the police officer and not what happened leading up to that moment.
The IOPC investigation would later reveal that the 70-year-old male punched the police officer in his eye, causing the officer to lose his vision temporarily.
At this point, the police officer, who feared for his safety, was forced to defend himself by striking the male several times.
Following the incident, the daughter of the male who attacked the officer posted an image of her father’s injuries with the caption:
“Today these police men [sic] beat up my dad in the Shortlands/Bromley area as they said he posed immediate [sic] threat towards them. This incident escalated because the police men [sic] pulled my dad due to one of his lights not working which he was not aware of.
“My dad is born-and-bred Jamaican whose accent is very strong and isn’t afraid to say what he feels about the @metpolice_uk and their corrupt racist system as my dad made hand gestures telling them to leave him alone they felt it was now their duty to physically abuse him.”
However, the daughter failed to mention in her Instagram post – which has since been deleted – that it was her father who punched the police officer and that the officer’s action following being hit was to protect himself and to subdue the threat.
The male and his family also alleged that he had only been stopped due to the colour of his skin.
However, the IOPC found no evidence of this and reaffirmed that the 70-year-old male had been stopped because of his defective brake light.
After the incident, and following the social media post, the police officer was interviewed under criminal caution by IOPC investigators and notified they he was being investigated for potential gross misconduct for his use of force.
Many sections of the mainstream media, without being in possession of the facts, ran with stories which failed to question the anti-police narrative which had been set in motion following the viral Instagram post.
Had the Met released the body-worn camera footage of the incident, it has been argued that the perceived hate campaign against the officer on social media could have been prevented or mitigated.
But instead, due to the public backlash following the social media posts, the Met Police referred the incident to the IOPC.
During the IOPCs investigation, officials reviewed police body-worn video and obtained statements from several witnesses, including the motorist and an independent witness.
House-to-house enquiries were conducted in the area, relevant medical records were obtained, and external advice was sought from an independent medical expert.
After the IOPCs investigation in September 2022, they found the officer had no case to answer for their use of force in punching the man, and there was no evidence that the officer may have committed a criminal offence.
Instead, the evidence supported the officer’s statement that he believed the man posed a threat to him at the time and that he was acting in self-defence.
Before punching the 70-year-old man in the face, the officer was struck in the face by the man and sustained a serious injury to his eye.
The IOPC also found that the officers at the scene had been polite and professional in their dealings with him before the man became abusive and assaulted the officer.
The IOPC found that, in the circumstances, the force used was reasonable, justified and proportionate, given the man was aggressively resisting police.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Federation told Emergency Services News:
“We have supported all the officers involved throughout this ordeal and are pleased with the results of the independent investigations.
“Our colleagues should never be subject to trial by media or social media”.
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