Police officer found guilty of assaulting two people during lockdown patrols

A police officer has been found guilty of assaulting two members of the public on consecutive days during the first Covid lockdown – including an attack on a 15-year-old boy.

Pc Declan Jones committed both offences while on duty in Birmingham, starting with an assault on a man in Aston on April 20 last year.

The 30-year-old West Midlands Police officer went on to kick and punch a 15-year-old he wrongly accused of possessing drugs in the Newtown area of the city on the following day.

Reaching verdicts on Monday after a week-long trial at Coventry Magistrates’ Court in June, District Judge Shamim Qureshi cleared Jones of assaulting a third complainant who was punched in the face on April 23, when the officer was heard to say he did not believe in the virus.

The judge said the third incident had seen the officer use “proportionate” force as colleagues struggled to detain a man wearing a stab-proof vest in Handsworth.

Declan Jones court case

CCTV footage of the attack on the 15-year-old was played to the court by prosecutors, who alleged Jones was annoyed the youth had “broken free” and was running off.

Jones told the court it was his “honest belief” the teenager had made a downward movement with one of his hands, causing him to fear for his safety.

Explaining the reason for his findings, District Judge Qureshi, sitting at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, told Jones the force used against the 15-year-old victim after he “stood in a surrender pose” was totally unnecessary.

The judge also described videos of the incidents, in which officers were shown not wearing masks, as “disastrous” for police-public relations and “embarrassing” to watch.

The judge told Jones: “It is noteworthy that in all three incidents, not a single officer wears a mask or face-covering despite being issued with it by West Midlands Police.

“Nothing turns on this point in this trial, but I have to make the comment that the videos, some of which were released on social media, are disastrous for public relations.

“It is embarrassing for the court to watch police officers selectively enforcing coronavirus laws when it suits them to order people off the streets and to go home, and yet those officers are ignoring the coronavirus laws and operational orders themselves.

“The videos do not show the police in a good light at all.”

In a video about the third incident, the judge said, Pc Jones was “heard saying he does not believe in the virus” when he spoke with a witness.

Describing the attack on the 15-year-old, Judge Qureshi said Jones had initially bent back the youth’s fingers.

The judge added: “The next stage of this incident is shown on camera when (the youth) stops and stands with his hands wide open in the surrender pose.

“Pc Jones then punches him to the ground, orders him to roll over onto his stomach and then kicks him, in my view like taking a free kick in football.

“Pc Jones claimed that people have hidden weapons and even with their hands in the air or behind their head, they might reach for something.

“He said it was not safe to walk the streets of Handsworth and neighbouring areas. After hearing Pc Jones’s repeated justification of intelligence and high crime area for all his actions, I consider that Pc Jones has a paranoia that everyone in a high crime area has concealed weapons all over their body and I query whether he was suited to this type of work in those areas.”

Celia Thorpe of the CPS said: “I do not underestimate the difficult, demanding and sometimes dangerous role of being a police officer patrolling our streets; however, in common with all members of society, police officers are accountable for their actions and are not above the law.

“Today’s verdicts demonstrate that the CPS will endeavour to bring cases to court where unlawful force is used and where it is in the public interest to do so.”

Criminal charges were brought against the Birmingham-based officer after an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into allegations of excessive use of force.

The inquiry followed a voluntary referral from West Midlands Police on April 30.

Jones was bailed for sentence on September 10.

Confirming that Jones will now face a misconduct hearing chaired by the West Midlands’ Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said: “Pc Jones’ use of force was totally inappropriate and it’s right that he has been held accountable by the court today.”

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