St Albans police officer sacked for using excessive force on injured teen

The Nickey Line

The Nickey Line - Credit: Archant

A St Albans police officer has been sacked for gross misconduct and another has received a written warning for using excessive force on a seriously injured teenager after he was knocked off his moped.

The then 15-year-old Christian-Lee Thompson was left paralysed after he was allegedly pushed off the vehicle by a member of the public on the Nickey Line in Redbourn.

Despite his serious head injuries - he was found bleeding - one of the officers, Pc Stuart Francis, held him to the ground while another, St Albans-based Pc Rishi Patel, restrained him by the legs on July 16 last year.

Following a complaint the Independent Police Complaints Commission examined the pair’s actions and recommended Herts Police hold a misconduct hearing.

Both were alleged to have used unnecessary and inappropriate force on the injured teenager, and providing dishonest or misleading accounts of their actions.

At the conclusion of a four-day independent misconduct hearing last Friday, a panel said in its verdict that Pc Francis had breached professional standards in relation to honesty and integrity, and by using excessive force, which amounted to gross misconduct. He was dismissed as a result.

The panel ruled that Pc Patel should receive a written warning for breaching standards.

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But, according to a report by BBC Three Counties Radio, the family was angry at the outcome.

Christian-Lee’s father, Stephen, said the police had ‘failed’ his son.

As he was too angry to speak, a statement was read out by his solicitor, Emma Hadley.

She said: “The family believe there is a catalogue of errors on and after that fateful day, involving the emergency services, and the hospital who have all let Christian-Lee down.”

The panel found that, on the balance of probability, Pc Francis did threaten to arrest Christian-Lee, despite knowing that he was seriously injured.

Also, that it was likely he put his hand on the teenager’s head and pushed him to the ground, despite his injuries, and held his arm behind his back and that he then lied to cover up his excessive use of force. All of this amounted to gross misconduct.

The panel found that Pc Patel, a more junior officer, momentarily used excessive force while he restrained Christian-Lee by his legs, but upon realising how injured he was, reduced his grip.

Christian-Lee and his friend had been riding their mopeds along the Nickey Line - down from where they live in Hemel Hempstead - without helmets, when a member of the public allegedly knocked the teenager off his moped and he sustained serious head injuries. When his friend found him covered in blood, he went to raise the alarm.

When the officers arrived, they were following up a report of an assault on a member of the public, and Christian-Lee was treated like a suspect with efforts revolving around his arrest, as opposed to seeking medical help.

The hearing was told the officers did not appear concerned about his injuries.

Witnesses heard Pc Francis say in an ‘aggressive’ voice that the teenager was going to be arrested. No first aid was given, and Pc Patel “was kneeling on Christian-Lee’s legs as he was worried he was going to be kicked in the face”.

But, a witness added, the teenager was “in no state to be kicking anyone in the face.”

After the verdict Herts Police Commissioner David Lloyd extended his sympathies to the boy and his family, adding, “It is always disappointing when Hertfordshire police officers fail to live up to the high standards we expect of them and these officers will rightly face sanctions for their action.”