Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

Police officers investigated for pepper spraying man in hospital

Five Met Police officers who pepper sprayed man in hospital after he set fire to his clothes are being investigated

  • A man, aged in his 50s, fell unconscious at a medical facility in Islington 
  • Officers had restrained him and used pepper spray during the incident  
  • They could be sacked from the force if found guilty of gross misconduct 

Five Met Police officers are being criminally investigated for pepper spraying a man in hospital after he set fire to his clothes. 

The man, aged in his mid-fifties, then fell unconscious and was rushed to another hospital in a critical but stable condition.  

He was discharged from hospital a month later. 

He had been detained under the Mental Health Act at the University College Hospital, Euston Road, in Camden.

The man was ‘behaving erratically, threatening members of the public and setting fire to his clothing’ during the incident in April. 

Officers restrained him and used Pava spray – a synthetic pepper spray –  when he became agitated, at which point the man fell unconscious. 

It sparked an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) probe.

The police watchdog has now informed the quintet they are being criminally investigated for common assault, while some are also being investigated for further potential offences including inflicting grievous bodily harm and non-fatal suffocation. 

Five Met Police officers are being criminally investigated after a man who set his clothes on fire was pepper sprayed in hospital and fell unconscious (file picture) 

The officers were initially called to the University College Hospital, Euston Road, in Camden, (pictured) where a man was said to be ‘behaving erratically, threatening members of the public and setting fire to his clothing’

The Met Police’s Annmarie Cowley said the ‘incident will be incredible concerning to the public’. The five officers have been placed on restrictive duties and could be sacked if found guilty of gross misconduct

They are also being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct. 

If found guilty of gross misconduct they could be sacked from the force. They have been placed on restricted duties.  

Three other officers are also being investigated for ‘potential’ misconduct, the IOPC said. 

Police body worn footage, hospital CCTV, and statements from the officers and hospital staff all formed part of the four-month investigation  

IOPC director Steve Noonan said: ‘We have been in contact with the man to inform him of our investigation.

‘The serving of criminal or conduct notices on officers does not necessarily mean that criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings will follow. 

‘It’s important that we continue to carry out an independent and thorough investigation to establish the full circumstances surrounding this incident.

‘Following our investigation, we will decide whether to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service to make a charging decision and whether disciplinary proceedings are required.’

Superintendent Annmarie Cowley, from the Met’s Central North Command, said: ‘We appreciate this incident will be incredibly concerning to the public.

‘Please know we are offering every assistance to the IOPC in their investigation and, due to their important ongoing work, will not be able to comment further at this time.’

A Met Police spokesperson told MyLondon at the time of the incident: ‘As is procedure in these circumstances, the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards were informed and alerted the Independent Office for Police Conduct, who have launched an independent investigation.’

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