Met officer guilty of assault on innocent shopkeeper

Published: 29 Jan 2024
News

A Metropolitan Police Service constable was today (Monday 29 January) found guilty of common assault after a court heard he struck a shopkeeper who had dialled 999 for help as his shop was being damaged.

The officer was charged following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

PC Jonathan Marsh, aged 34, appeared before City of London Magistrates’ Court and had denied the offence.

He will be sentenced on 29 February, 2024.

PC Marsh and a colleague were responding to an emergency call from the shopkeeper who reported a man was damaging his shop sign in Romford, east London on 13 November 2022.

The officers initially tried to find the suspect but, after receiving a message from their control centre, they mistakenly identified the shopkeeper as the suspect. The officers handcuffed him, took him to the ground with force and PC Marsh punched him in the back of the head.

The man sustained abrasions to his face in the incident and, while handcuffed, he was put into the back of a police vehicle. He was de-arrested when the officers realised he had been mistakenly identified as the suspect.

We began our investigation following a complaint from the shopkeeper, which was referred to us by the MPS in February 2023. It was completed in November and we are in correspondence with the force over whether PC Marsh should also face a misconduct hearing.

IOPC regional director Charmaine Arbouin said: “Police officers may only use force when it is necessary, proportionate, and reasonable in the circumstances. There was no policing purpose or justification for the officer to strike the man, who posed no genuine risk.

“The shopkeeper was a law-abiding member of the public, who had called the police to report a crime, when he became a victim of mistaken identity.

“We appreciate cases of mistaken identity can happen, however, PC Marsh made no attempt to establish the facts and the situation escalated quickly when he immediately used unnecessary force on the man who posed no threat to him or his colleague. Now PC Marsh has a conviction against his name.”

During the investigation, we reviewed body worn video and CCTV, obtained witness statements including from the victim, examined radio airwaves, police records and policies and interviewed the two officers.

In May we passed evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service which authorised the charge.

Tags
  • Metropolitan Police Service
  • Use of force and armed policing