In a recent trial before Crewe Magistrates’ Court, the defendant was a woman with no previous convictions, who had been charged with an offence of assaulting an emergency worker.
The defendant had been driving her child to nursery when she was pulled over by a male police officer. The incident which followed was recorded on the officer’s body worn video camera.
The defendant suffered with PTSD and informed the officer of the same. After speaking with her briefly and taking her driving licence, the officer then went back to the defendant’s vehicle and opened her car door without asking for permission or getting her attention first. This abrupt action upset the defendant. When the defendant went to attend to her infant, who was crying, the officer proceeded to lean into the defendant’s car before touching and pulling her. He told the defendant to leave her child alone or he would put her in handcuffs.
In his evidence at trial, the officer claimed the defendant had then kicked him several times. At no point before the alleged assault had the officer cautioned or arrested the defendant.
In a submission of no case to answer, Miss Knightly argued that the Prosecution had failed to make out the elements of the offence, in particular that an assault had taken place at all.
After hearing from both parties on the submission of no case to answer, the Judge found that while the defendant had identified her vulnerability at an early stage, the officer did not appear to have moderated his behaviour to take account of that.
The Judge said from the body worn video footage it looked more likely to him that the officer had grabbed the defendant by her wrist, rather than her sleeve as the officer had suggested, and the officer had then tried to pull the defendant out of her car. He said he didn’t see any kicks in the body worn footage and he was not persuaded that an assault on the officer took place at all based on what he had seen. He said it appeared the first force had been used by the officer. The Judge said this was not a matter which could be allowed to go forwards. The defendant was acquitted.
This interesting case demonstrated an occasion where police body worn video footage protected a vulnerable member of the public.