Hudgell Solicitors is supporting a man in making a legal claim of battery against Humberside Police after he was left with a long list of injuries – including needing a cast on his arm – when officers arrested him for being drunk and disorderly.
Such was the ‘excessive force’ of the arrest in Hull city centre, one of the officers involved – a police sergeant – offered a full apology and begged to be allowed to keep his job when CCTV footage of his actions were played back to him.
The two officers involved in the arrest were each issued with final written warnings by Humberside Police after hearings for gross misconduct. However, they both remained in their jobs following the disciplinary procedures.
Victim David Prosser 24, of Portobello Street, Hull, says the incident, which left him needing his arm in a cast for six weeks, cuts and scarring to his face, a bloodshot eye and blurred vision and headaches, has left him reluctant to go out with his friends.
He had been in Hull city centre drinking with work colleagues on Saturday, October 26, 2013, when he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Humberside Police has since admitted that the arrest amounted to gross misconduct due to the ‘excessive force’ used.
Mr Prosser was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary, where he was seen by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and had the cast on his right wrist, and his other injuries treated.
However, he then found himself charged with assaulting one of the two officers in the execution of his duty, as well as a public order offence.
Both of those charges were subsequently dismissed at Hull Magistrates Court as no evidence was offered to support them, although Mr Prosser did admit resisting arrest.
When Mr Prosser, who works in Hull refurbishing properties, made an official complaint, claiming he had been punched and kicked during the arrest, an investigation into was launched and the CCTV footage was reviewed.
A Personal Safety Trainer at South Yorkshire Police, who reviewed the footage, revealed how one officer placed Mr Prosser in a headlock, even though he was already handcuffed – putting him a position which ‘may have made it difficult for Mr Prosser to breathe.’
During investigations into the complaint, three other police officers who were present during the arrest said they didn’t know how Mr Prosser’s injuries had been caused.
When the accused officers themselves were interviewed though, the police sergeant admitted feeling guilty for the way he had acted, begging to keep his job.
He said: “I’ve got it wrong on this occasion. I don’t feel good about myself after watching that. I’d like to say sorry to Mr Prosser. It wasn’t malicious what I did to him, but at the same time I’ve overstepped the mark. Please don’t make me lose my job as the consequences are disastrous for me.”
The second officer, a police constable, admitted using a ‘knee strike’ during the arrest, but claimed it had all been reasonable action in making the arrest.
Mr Prosser said: “Much of that night is a blur to me now. I can usually remember everything after a night out but that one is just flashes of the night, such as struggling when the police had hold of me and being in pain on the floor, and then being in hospital having my injuries seen to.
“I have been piecing the night together ever since, but those who were with me at the time were horrified by what they saw and said it was completely over the top. Yes, I was drunk, of that there is no doubt, but the police are meant to be there to handle situations like that calmly, not chase a man down and use it as an excuse to attack him.
“It really put the shivers up me and has left me reluctant to go out as I am now distrustful of the police.”
Humberside Police released details earlier this year revealing two officers had been given final written warnings after using excessive force, saying it had done so to be ‘transparent’, but Mr Prosser says that was not enough, and feels people should know more.
“It’s all well and good Humberside Police saying they are transparent, but to simply say two officers were given written warnings for excessive force doesn’t tell the full story of what happened to me that night. That’s why I took legal action and that is why I am speaking out now,” he said.
“I was left with numerous injuries to my head, eyes, arms, wrist and legs. I had a pot on my arm, up to my elbow, for six weeks as I had suffered tendon damage. I want people to know what happened that night.”
Andrew Petherbridge, a specialist in handling claims against police at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “It is clear from the conclusion of the police’s own investigation that the behaviour, in respect of one of the officers in particular, was completely indefensible. The actions of both were found to amount to gross misconduct.
“This is the sort of incident which will unfortunately do little for public confidence in the police, who are there to protect people from being hurt. Our client suffered substantial injuries as a result of being taken into custody that night.
“We welcome the fact that an officer involved has since spoken of his regret and offered an apology, but this sort of behaviour should not be tolerated in the police force, and members of the public should not be subjected to this kind of treatment.”