A West Midlands Police officer filmed pepper-spraying a black cyclist who was being subjected to a stop-and-search during lockdown in April 2020 has kept her job after being handed a final written warning following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
At a disciplinary hearing at the force’s headquarters in central Birmingham, Sergeant Jennifer Edwards was ruled to have committed misconduct, but not gross misconduct, in relation to the incident which happened in April 2020 when the UK was under lockdown, reports the Birmingham Mail, which has video of it.
She and another officer, PC Declan Jones, had stopped cyclist Michael Rose on Frederick Road, Aston, and searched him. Mr Rose was then pushed against the bonnet of their patrol car, with Jones repeatedly punching him before Edwards deployed the pepper spray.
Jones, who was later jailed for six months for assault in connection with this incident and a similar one the following day in which a 15-year-old boy was the victim, took his own life at Christmas 2021, two months after he had been released from prison and at a time when he was facing another criminal trial related to an alleged assault committed while he was still a police officer.
> Police officer sacked after being convicted of assaulting black cyclist
Announcing the outcome of the hearing against Edwards this week, a West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “At a two-day gross misconduct hearing organised by the force, which concluded on Tuesday, February 7, PS Edwards was found to have breached police standards of professional behaviour for use of force at the lower level of misconduct. This was in respect of her use of PAVA spray on the second occasion during the incident.
“She was also found to have breached the standards for conduct and for duties and responsibilities for not showing the man courtesy, consideration and respect and non-compliance with the requirements of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).
“The independently chaired disciplinary panel ruled that the officer’s actions amounted to misconduct – rather than gross misconduct – and handed PS Edwards a final written warning which will stay on her record for four years.”
A separate alleged breach of professional behaviour relating to Mr Rose not having been told why he was being stopped and searched was not proven, the panel found.
In evidence, Mr Rose, who was 44 at the time of the assault, said: “I had nothing to hide so I stayed there. I had never been stopped by the police before. That was the first time I had ever been.
“They had no masks. I was trying to keep myself away from them. They were roughing me up. I didn’t want them in my face.
“I was being roughed up for no reason. He [Jones] slammed me against the car. Look, he is pushing my face down. He is taking off my mask and breathing in my face,” Mr Rose added.
His stepfather, Bernard Jones, subsequently confronted the two officers, and told the hearing: “He wasn't resisting. He was telling people to keep their distance. [Jones] walloped him three times with full force. Mikey is only a little thing.”
After the conclusion of the hearing, local community leader Bishop Dr Desmond Jaddoo of the Vision Temple of Praise Church said, in a statement released on behalf of Mr Rose and his stepfather: “We welcome the findings against Sergeant Edwards, who was the senior officer on the scene at the time when this occurred.
“In the view of Mr Rose and Mr Jones [she] did nothing to de-escalate the attack Mr Rose was subjected to.
“Although she has not lost her job, which in our opinion should have happened, we do welcome the final warning.
“It is time the West Midlands Police Federation takes stock. I believe some officers have stereotypical views when policing inner-city areas and this is not a great advert for community relations.
“However, on this occasion, the police officer has been held to account and it is hoped that moving forward community relations will improve. We must remember the police need the community and the community need the police.”
The final written warning issued to Edwards will remain on her record for four years.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or emailjo [at] samaritans.org"> jo [at] samaritans.org.
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