Met Police officer given final written warning over Taser use
A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer has been given a final written warning at a gross misconduct hearing arranged by the force, following our investigation.
At 3am on 9 March 2019, police constable (PC) Karl Bassom chased a suspect across Hammersmith Bridge, both on foot and via a passing Uber taxi, and discharged a Taser against him as he was on the Thames footpath. The man then fell into the river and PC Bassom fired five more times while the man was still in the water.
It was alleged the officer breached the police standards of professional behaviour in relation to duties and responsibilities; use of force; honesty and integrity; and discreditable conduct by:
* failing to adequately consider the safety of members of the public when he kept his Taser armed and his finger on the trigger while in the moving vehicle. This may have put the driver and passenger at unnecessary risk of accidental discharge of the Taser and possible injury; and failing to prevent the suspect from suffering further injuries while he was in the river
* using force that was not necessary, proportionate and reasonable when he threatened to use and did use his Taser on the suspect, particularly in relation to the final four taser discharges on the suspect while he was in the water when he may not have posed a threat to the officer
* providing inaccurate information to his colleagues at the scene and later when he recalled the events in writing
The suspect had a cut on his palm but there were no injuries as a result of him being Tasered.
Our investigation – started in March 2019 and completed in September 2019 – examined evidence including officers’ statements and their body worn video.
A file of evidence was provided to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided the evidence was not sufficient for any criminal charges to follow.
We found evidence of a case to answer for gross misconduct and the MPS agreed with our findings. Following a ruling by the disciplinary panel, a misconduct hearing was held in private from 28 to 30 October.
The disciplinary panel found:
* misconduct proven for PC Bassom in respect of duties and responsibilities in his handling of the taser in the private hire vehicle.
* gross misconduct for PC Bassom proven in respect of the allegations of use of force in relation to the last three taser discharges, and discreditable conduct.
The panel did not find that PC Bassom’s actions breached the professional standards of honesty and integrity.
He was given a final written warning by the panel.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said:
“It is important that officers are held accountable for their use of Taser where it is used inappropriately.
“In applying the test for use of force as decided by the Court of Appeal in the recent case of W80 v IOPC, the police disciplinary panel has concluded that PC Bassom’s use of Taser and his handling of the device was poor on this occasion and breached police professional standards.
“The panel found that PC Bassom’s actions undermined public confidence in policing and brought discredit on the Metropolitan Police Service.
“Clearly the public expects very high standards from police officers so we support the panel’s decision to give PC Bassom a final written warning.”