A South Wales Police officer has been found not guilty of assault, following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
30-year-old PC Rowan Knight was accused of assaulting Christian Summers by using ‘excessive force’ when he tried to arrest him for being drunk and disorderly during an incident on Northern Avenue, Whitchurch, at around 2 am on Saturday 9 January this year
During the trial, the court heard how PC Knight reacted when Summers “lunged” towards him and said: “Who the f*** are you?” whilst grabbing his neck and pushing him against a police car.
PC Knight explained to the court that Summers then resisted arrest by putting his fingers in the officer’s eye.
Wales Online reported that PC Knight told Cardiff Magistrates Court:
“I felt his hand across my face, and then I felt extreme pain in my eye.
“From the footage, you can see he clearly has his middle finger in my eye.
“I closed my eyes and put my head down and thinking: ‘He’s fish hooking my eye’.
“I clearly remember thinking he’s trying to blind me I need to stop him from doing this.
“I was punching him with my left hand.”
PC Knight was accused of throwing four punches towards Summers before throwing six punches after fellow officers restrained the suspect.
But PC Knight said he did not know Colleagues were holding summers because the gouging had temporarily blinded him – so he continued to throw punches.
He said: “I never felt like that he was under control I didn’t receive any verbal instructions from my colleagues.”
PC Knight said he eventually felt Mr Summers “go limp” and placed him into a police car so he could be arrested and put in the recovery position.
Still, the suspect attacked him again by pulling the officer into the vehicle.
He said: “He was punching me at the side of my head. I was on top of Christian Summers and trying to restrain him.
“I remember feeling I was being lifted up off of him my back was being lifted towards the roof of the car.
“I felt like I couldn’t breathe as he was pushing me so hard. I remember seeing stars and felt very dizzy I remember thinking I might have to do something because he is going to make me unconscious if this continues.”
District Judge David Webster said Summers was “clearly” gouging the eye of PC Rowan Knight as he tried to arrest him for being drunk and disorderly.
Judge Webster said:
“Christian Summers had his hand over the face of the defendant and the footage clearly shows the middle finger was clearly some distance into the eye socket.
“I’m satisfied at that point the witness was gouging the eye.”
The judge said that 6ft-5ins 22-stone PC Knight threw “nine or 10 punches at Mr Summers in an attempt for him to stop the attack but hardly any of the blows landed.”
Judge Webster said: “Had the defendant had the opportunity to punch unobstructed, then given his size, he would have caused significant injury to the witness.
A spokesperson for the IOPC said their investigation began in February after a complaint referral was received from South Wales Police.
The spokesperson added: “After careful consideration of the evidence, including body-worn video footage of the incident and accounts from the man who was arrested and officers present, we passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, who authorised a charge of assault.”
Despite being found not guilty, the officer now faces a disciplinary case for gross misconduct.
Speaking about the disciplinary, the spokesperson said:
“At the conclusion of our investigation, we also formed the view that PC Knight has a disciplinary case to answer for gross misconduct, which South Wales Police agreed with.
“It will now be for the force to take forward disciplinary proceedings.”
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