Tuesday, February 17, 2015

British cop slammed arrested man's head into desk in custody suite - leaving him with stitches and a £13,000 pay-out

This is the shocking moment a police officer slammed a handcuffed man's head onto a custody suite desk, leaving him needing stitches in an attack that led to a £13,000 damages pay-out.

Mark Cheesman was taken to Birkenhead police station in Merseyside, after he was arrested in 2010, accused of running in between traffic.

CCTV footage taken from the station's custody suite shows that as Mr Cheesman protested his innocence, he was grabbed by constable Gregory Hawkswell.

His head was forced onto the desk, leaving him bleeding from wound on his chin and requiring stitches.

The footage emerged as Merseyside Police agreed to pay £13,200 in damages to Mr Cheesman, from Tranmere, Merseyside.

Mr Cheesman was 23 in 2010 when he was arrested outside the Beach bar, in Birkenhead, and accused of running in between traffic, which he denied. He was handcuffed by Pc Hawkswell and arrested.

The footage, from the police station cameras, shows Mr Cheesman taken to the custody desk to be checked in by the custody sergeant.

He was told to stop swearing after protesting that he had 'done nothing f****** wrong'.

Handcuffed Mr Cheesman is seen to turn away from the custody sergeant to briefly look at Pc Hawkswell, and at that point, the officer grabs him and forces his head on to the desk.

Mr Cheesman was later taken to hospital for stitches before being handed a fixed penalty notice the following day.

Pc Hawkswell was charged with assault but found not guilty by a jury in criminal proceedings in 2011. He claimed he had feared for his safety. [From a handcuffed man?]

In defence documents the officer said: 'At the custody desk, Cheesman refused to face the custody sergeant, preferring to face myself instead, which I believed to be a threat. I attempted to lead Cheesman back to face the sergeant, at which point he became tense and attempted to rear at me.

'I applied force to the handcuffs and forced him down towards the desk in order to regain control of him. 'I believe that, as a result, Cheesman suffered a cut to his chin from a fixed sign on the custody desk.'

Mr Cheesman's law firm, Bootle-based James Murray Solicitors, said the video showed that PC Hawkswell's account 'clearly was not plausible'.

'Mr Cheesman was in handcuffs, he was a young man of exemplary good character, had done nothing wrong and the video shows that,' said Mr Cheeman's lawyer, Lee Massingham.

Mr Cheesman claimed false imprisonment, trespass to person, personal injury, aggravated and exemplary damages.

Merseyside Police settled the claim for £13,200, plus costs, just weeks before a civil trial was due to start at Liverpool county court. The force has not accepted liability.

Mr Massingham said: 'Viewing the footage of the incident that took place in the custody suite was very distressing for both Mr Cheesman and his family. 'It is absolutely paramount the public are made aware that they do not have to accept such treatment by police officers.

'Mr Cheesman is a man of good character and was not only subjected to a serious assault by an acting police officer but was also unlawfully arrested.

'It is disappointing that it took so long for the matter to resolve favourably for Mr Cheesman, but it is hoped that he can now move on with his life.'

A force spokesman said: 'Merseyside Police considered this civil action and it was examined by the force's legal team. 'The force can confirm that it sought appropriate advice and that a settlement amount was negotiated before trial.

'Merseyside Police remains absolutely committed to the highest integrity and the professional standards of its officers at all times.' [Except where Pc Hawkswell is involved?]

Original report here

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