UK: Police force faces inquiries over tasering of black men

Police refer Aston arrest to police watchdog | Central - ITV News

Neil Johnston, Midlands Correspondent

The police watchdog has promised to investigate allegations of racially motivated brutality by England’s second biggest force.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said that it was carrying out nine “full, fair and thorough” inquiries into officers at West Midlands police over use of force on black men.

The investigations are connected to six incidents in Birmingham, including claims black men were wrongly tasered by a rogue officer, the watchdog said.

The investigation began last month after video emerged of an officer beating a 15-year-old boy in Newtown on April 21. The officer was suspended after he appeared to knock the boy down with a punch before kicking him.

It emerged that the previous day the same officer had been filmed on CCTV apparently beating a black cyclist. The officer is seen dragging the 44-year-old man off his bicycle in the middle of the street before yanking down the man’s protective facemask and pinning him against the bonnet of a patrol car.

With his female colleague holding the man down the officer appears to punch him three times in the back. The officer pauses as a car drives past the scene before he appears to punch the man again and knee him as his colleague handcuffs him. Several passers-by ask the officer to stop. He then appears to slam the cyclist against the car.

Video later emerged of the same officer tasering a man in Handsworth after a pursuit on February 27. Trevaile Wyse, 30, said that he had been a bystander to a car crash but was ordered to get on the floor and tasered when he did not. He said he was treated by paramedics and detained at Perry Barr police station for 19 hours, and that he agreed to attend an anger management course after being told he would face a charge of assaulting an officer if he did not. “I was hit in the stomach and in the throat,” he said. “I passed out — when you’re being tasered, it’s not a nice feeling. Being tasered in the throat is ten times worse. It’s disgraceful, there was no reason to do that whatsoever.”

The same officer has been linked to an incident in which a man was stopped in the street in Handsworth on April 23.

The IOPC is also investigating other officers after a man was tasered following a chase on foot in Winson Green on May 4. An officer has also been suspended after a man suffered a broken ankle when he was arrested in Digbeth on May 14.

Derrick Campbell, the IOPC’s director in the region, said: “I have personally called in some of these matters for investigation using my powers under the Police Reform Act after concerns were raised with me by the community. I would like to reassure communities in the West Midlands that full, fair and thorough independent investigations are under way into all of these incidents and the conduct matters brought to our attention by the force.”

He said the investigations would look at whether force was “justified and proportionate in each of these instances”.

Desmond Jaddoo, an activist who has expressed his concerns to the police on behalf of the community, said that “highly questionable interactions” needed to be “addressed as a matter of urgency”. He said there had been a “long-standing issue” of stereotyping and racial discrimination in the force.

Chief Superintendent Chris Todd, from the force’s professional standards department, said the highest standards were expected of officers. He added: “Serving and protecting the public is paramount and it is vital that our communities have trust and confidence in everything that we do.”

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