Cop facing disciplinary tribunal for punching Tesco burglary suspect

Police officer facing disciplinary tribunal for punching Tesco burglary suspect in the face and leg sweeping another to the ground says he feared for his safety

  • PC Henry Green called to report of three people, suspected of burglary, at Tesco
  • It is alleged that PC Green breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour
  • Police misconduct hearing heard he applied force that was ‘not necessary’
  • PC Green argued suspects became ‘aggressive’ and says actions were ‘justified’
  • A police officer who is facing a disciplinary tribunal for punching a Tesco burglary suspect in the face and ‘leg sweeping’ another to the ground says he did so because he feared for his safety. 

    PC Henry Green and a colleague were called to reports of two men and a woman, suspected of burglary, at the Tesco Express store in Newland Avenue, Hull, just before 11.30am on June 6, 2019.

    It is alleged that PC Green breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour by applying force that was ‘not necessary, proportionate or reasonable in the circumstances’ and that his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct. 

    However, the serving Humberside officer told a hearing on Monday that the suspects became ‘aggressive’ and insisted his actions were ‘proportionate and justified’ at the former magistrates’ building in Goole, East Yorkshire.

    PC Henry Green and a colleague were called to reports of two men and a woman, suspected of burglary, at the Tesco Express store in Newland Avenue, Hull, (pictured) just before 11.30am on June 6, 2019

    PC Henry Green and a colleague were called to reports of two men and a woman, suspected of burglary, at the Tesco Express store in Newland Avenue, Hull, (pictured) just before 11.30am on June 6, 2019

    Ian Mullarkey, representing Humberside Police, said on arrival at the store, a male suspect was immediately placed in handcuffs and was completely compliant. A female suspect was then also placed in handcuffs, MEN Media reports.

    PC Green ran around the shop to try to apprehend a third suspect, the hearing was told. When he returned, he grabbed the male and female suspects by the arm, but the female suspect complained.

    Mr Mullarkey said: ‘As a result of that, and there being no other threat offered, the officer [PC Green] uses unnecessary and disproportionate force and deploys a leg sweep to take [the female suspect] to the floor while she was in handcuffs and therefore unable to break her fall. He fails to adequately support or control her fall to minimise the risk of serious injury.

    ‘It is apparent that as [the female suspect] strikes the hard floor of the supermarket she is not supported by the officer in any way,’ Mr Mullarkey added. ‘The officer then says ‘you can stay there, sweetheart’, which gives an insight into the officer’s motivation. The officer was not afraid for his safety, but was agitated, excited and confrontational.

    ‘The officer then turns towards [the male suspect] and takes hold of him with both hands and [the male suspect] says, ‘I aren’t doing anything’. The officer raises the handcuffs he has in his right hand and uses them as a weapon to strike [the male suspect] to the head.’

    PC Henry Green (pictured) told a police misconduct hearing on Monday that the suspects became 'aggressive' and insisted his actions were 'proportionate and justified' at the former magistrates' building in Goole, East Yorkshire

    PC Henry Green (pictured) told a police misconduct hearing on Monday that the suspects became ‘aggressive’ and insisted his actions were ‘proportionate and justified’ at the former magistrates’ building in Goole, East Yorkshire

    Neither suspect had offered any resistance, Mr Mullarkey told the hearing. He said this was backed up by staff in the Tesco store.

    Mr Mullarkey added: ‘A customer assistant at Tesco observed the officer punch out at [the male suspect] (though she did not see whether the blow landed) and stated: ‘I had not seen male one attempting to attack the officer or being aggressive prior to the punch being thrown.’

    ‘[The male suspect] was then also forced to the floor and the officer says, ‘Show me any more resistance and I’ll punch you in the face again you little p****.’

    Derek Christmas, a police personal safety trainer, provided a witness statement in which he said PC Green showed ‘little or no concern for the safety and welfare of the [female] suspect when he pushes or leg sweeps her to the floor’. 

    PC Green’s decision to strike [the male suspect] to the head while holding handcuffs was a disproportionate use of force in the circumstances, Mr Christmas added.

    However, in a statement, PC Green insisted his actions were justified. He claimed the suspects became aggressive and he had concerns for his own safety. In his statement, PC Green said: ‘[The female suspect] immediately became aggressive; she turned towards me, started shouting and swearing at me and, at the same time, made a movement towards me.

    ‘[Her] behaviour had escalated quickly, I was alone with two suspects. I did not know where PC Suddaby [his colleague] was because my earpiece had fallen out. I had previously been assaulted that morning by another person I had arrested, who was also handcuffed when he managed to assault me.

    Nick Wordsley, representing PC Green (pictured), argued to have the matter thrown out on the basis that PC Green had already been acquitted of any wrongdoing at a criminal court, because the matter breached Home Office guidance, and because of the length of time it had taken to get to this point

    Nick Wordsley, representing PC Green (pictured), argued to have the matter thrown out on the basis that PC Green had already been acquitted of any wrongdoing at a criminal court, because the matter breached Home Office guidance, and because of the length of time it had taken to get to this point

    ‘I had literally seconds to decide how to deal with the situation and take action; in what was a fluid situation. I therefore decided to take her to the floor, using a leg sweep. In doing so, I thought she would be easier to control. I held on to her until she touched the floor in a bid to minimise the impact.’

    PC Green also admitted striking the male suspect, but said his actions were defensive and he had believed the male suspect might assault him. He stated: ‘I went to take hold of him and as I did, he tensed his arm up and moved his arm upwards. I honestly believed that [he] was going to assault me in a bid to escape, despite being handcuffed, due to his arm movements.

    ‘I therefore delivered a single punch to the face with my right hand. Again, this decision was made in a split second and in a bid to detain him on the floor as quickly as possible.’

    PC Green emphasised the risk he felt he was in at the time during the police misconduct hearing. He stated: ‘The force I had used against [the suspects] was necessary in order to bring about their safe detention and to protect myself from harm.

    ‘The degree of force that I used was proportionate. The necessary and proportionate amount of force used was in the light of my honestly held belief at the time I used it.

    ‘When it came to dealing with [the male suspect], I honestly believed that he was about to assault me. This led to me striking him pre-emptively.’

    Earlier in the hearing Nick Wordsley, representing PC Green, argued to have the matter thrown out on the basis that PC Green had already been acquitted of any wrongdoing at a criminal court, because the matter breached Home Office guidance, and because of the length of time it had taken to get to this point.

    However, the panel dismissed the arguments and said the hearing would continue. The hearing is due to continue tomorrow and conclude on Wednesday and the two burglary suspects are expected to give evidence.