A policeman was arrested and handcuffed by a fellow officer after he punched a suspect in the face “in self-defence”, a court has heard.
Pc Rohan Scarlett, 47, who is based at Lewisham, in South east London, was today found guilty of commonlaw assault after he lashed out when he was spat on by the man as he tried to put him in a police van.
Pc Scarlett, who has worked for the Metropolitan Police for eight years, had been called by officers at Islington at 3am on February 20 this year to pick up the suspect from its station.
Highbury Magistrates’ Court was told when Pc Scarlett arrived the suspect Andrew Uba resisted being handcuffed and the officer, along with two others, had to use force to get him into the van to be taken to Lewisham station.
As he struggled with him, the father-of-two was then spat on by the man, with “big chunks” of saliva hitting him in the mouth and eyes.
Pc Scarlett, a 6’1 former nightclub bouncer who joined the police on the week of the 7/7 bombings, is then said to have been so disgusted that he hit out at Uba in anger.
Giving evidence, Pc David O’Hara, an officer based at Islington who had helped move the suspect into the van, said Pc Scarlett closed the door before wiping off the spit from his face. He is then said to have reopened the van door and punched Uba on the nose so hard it bled.
Pc O’Hara told the court he physically tried to remove Scarlett from the suspect but was not strong enough.
Pc Scarlett accused the officer of lying, saying he struck the man “milliseconds” after in self-defence, before removing the saliva, and that he had not closed the door first.
Pc Scarlett was immediately handcuffed by Pc O’Hara, who told him he was being arrested.
“Pc O’Hara grabbed my right wrist and put some cuffs on saying I am under arrest on suspicion of GBH – I was in shock,” Pc Scarlett said.
As he led him back into the station he allegedly told him “you’re in a world of trouble”.
The court heard that Pc O’Hara told Pc Scarlett “this is not how we do things” to which he answered “yes, it is”.
He was then taken to the custody suite, where Pc Scarlett was questioned and where he gave two statements.
Pc Scarlett had claimed he acted in self-defence and that in hindsight it was not the best action to take, but the only one he felt he had at the time to stop the suspect spitting again.
He told the court: “The suspect wouldn’t do as he was told, he was being very verbal. He was surprisingly strong for a small man.
“It is an assault to spit at someone and I didn’t want to be assaulted again.
“It was the first time I had ever made anyone bleed in my 47 years. I’ve never punched someone in the face before, just distraction blows on the arm or control holds. Eight years as a police officer and I’ve never been spat at.”
Prosecuting, Dilichi Onuzo said Pc Scarlett’s reaction had been “completely disproportionate”.
She said: “I argue that his action was completely disproportionate. Why didn’t you just move back or move your head, you didn’t need to hit him.
“You say you needed to have him under control, but he was handcuffed, in a police van, in the yard of a station. How was he not in your control?
“You were just so disgusted at being spat at you launched at him.”
Pc Scarlett showed no emotion as the judging panel found he had not been acting in self-defence and said they viewed his punch as “provocative”.
Sue Rose, Chair of the Bench, said: “We have no doubt he was a credit to the force, but this was a unique situation. We believe that he did not need to use force to defend himself as he claimed.”
Read full story at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10269077/Police-officer-arrested-by-colleague-after-he-punched-a-suspect-in-the-face-court-told..html