Published: 11:01, 20 September 2021
| Updated: 14:43, 20 September 2021
A former Met officer who previously lied about how he retrieved handcuffs from a suspect, would have been dismissed without notice for excessive use of force after he tasered a man for 14 seconds in Bexley, a disciplinary panel has found.
The ruling follows a five-month Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the actions of former PC Robert Powell, who was dismissed after he previously lied about how he retrieved the handcuffs from a suspect who ran away with them.
The panel concluded former PC Powell used excessive force by activating his Taser, in drive stun mode for 14 seconds, against the detainee when the man was on the floor and no longer posed a threat.
Drive stun involves applying the Taser directly to the body of the individual. In its judgment the panel noted this action seemed to have an element of retribution to it.
It also concluded former PC Powell provided a false account, saying that the detainee grabbed his collegue, PC Lee Smith around the throat.
The case against former PC Powell was proven at gross misconduct level for breaches of use of force and honesty and integrity.
Had he still been a serving officer he would have been dismissed without notice.
The panel also found PS Smith breached the standards of professional behaviour in relation to authority, respect and courtesy, after he used derogatory language towards the detainee. The officer, who was acting Police Sergeant at the time, will now receive management advice.
Following the findings, Regional director for London Sal Naseem said: “Former PC Powell used a gratuitous level of force against this man when he activated his Taser on someone who no longer posed a threat to himself or his colleague.
"The panel’s sanction sends a strong message that this kind of breach of the standards of professional behaviour has no place in policing.
“In our recently published review of Taser cases we recommended to policing bodies, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council, that they continue to monitor the use of Taser in drive-stun mode and actively discourage officers from using Taser in this way.
"Following a previous review we also highlighted that this mode was still being used, despite it no longer being included in training due to its ineffectiveness. We recommended that officers should attempt to diffuse situations before resorting to its use, except in exceptional circumstances.
"This kind of breach of the standards of professional behaviour has no place in policing ..."
“It is exactly this kind of incident which highlights the need for scrutiny and improvements so that the public can be reassured a Taser is only used when absolutely necessary.”
Acting PS Smith and former colleague PC Powell, both based at the South East Command Unit, were on duty on November 1, 2019, when they responded to a report that a car was being broken into at Barnehurst Railway Station, Bexley.
A man was arrested and taken to a police station where he collapsed and was then taken to hospital.
The panel delivered the sanctions on Monday, September 13 at the end of a public hearing organised by the MPS.
It followed investigations by the IOPC which concluded that the officers had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
Former PC Powell had already been dismissed from the MPS in July after it was found that he lied about how he retrieved handcuffs from a suspect during an incident in Greenwich in December 2019.
During the course of our investigation both officers were interviewed under criminal caution.
A file of evidence was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided not to bring any criminal charges against either officer.
During the investigation, IOPC investigators interviewed both officers, members of the public, and analysed body worn video footage and CCTV footage.