A district judge has branded videos of an unmasked officer attacking members of the public in two separate lockdown assaults ’embarrassing to watch’.
PC Declan Jones was caught on camera punching a 15-year-old boy to the ground before kicking him in the ribs in Melbourne Avenue, Newtown.
The 30-year-old officer, found guilty today, also punched a cyclist several times in his torso and held him down onto the bonnet of the police patrol car in Aston.
Both separate incidents took place on consecutive days, April 20 – 21, as the UK faced its first coronavirus lockdown – with the daily death toll rising above 1,200 at the time.
District Judge Shamim Qureshi told Jones the force used against the teenage victim after he “stood in a surrender pose” was totally unnecessary.
But commenting further on the videos, he added that they did not show West Midlands Police in a “good light at all” as officers weren’t wearing masks.
The judge told Jones – who was suspended from the force over the attacks – that the social media clips were “disastrous” for police-public relations due to the flouting of Covid laws.
He said: “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.”
District Judge Qureshi cleared Jones of assaulting a third complainant who was punched in the face on April 23.
The judge said the officer used “proportionate” force as colleagues struggled to detain a man wearing a stab-proof vest in Handsworth.
However, two of the assaults were proven to be neither “necessary nor proportionate”. Judge Qureshi rejected the explanation for his actions and agreed that they were unlawful.
Celia Thorpe of the Crown Prosecution Service (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.
“I would like to thank and pay tribute to the bravery of the victims who came forward and gave their support to the very thorough investigations carried out by the IOPC, their attendance at court and giving evidence during the criminal trial.”
PC Jones will be sentenced on September 10 at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
He will also face misconduct proceedings chaired by the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police after the force branded his use of force “totally inappropriate”.
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.”