Clash roadie Don Lorenzo arrest: Police face misconduct probe

By Alex Homer
BBC News Online

Image caption,
The appeal court upheld a decision in 2012 that Don Lorenzo was racially abused and assaulted as he was arrested by West Midlands Police officers five years earlier

Eight police officers and a staff member will face misconduct proceedings over the assault and racial abuse of a man during his arrest, a watchdog says.

West Midlands Police at first cleared its officers over the arrest of former Clash roadie Don Lorenzo in 2007.

But the appeal court later heard he was punched, kicked, dragged down five flights of stairs and racially abused.

Eight other officers had no case to answer, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

Mr Lorenzo, from Birmingham, was awarded £17,000 in damages in October 2011.

The county court judgement went against an earlier internal investigation in which the force found it did not need to discipline its officers.

The IPCC said "previous referrals" about the matter led to its investigation of Mr Lorenzo's complaints about his arrest and detention. He also alleged officers colluded over witness statements about an alleged assault by Mr Lorenzo against an officer in custody.

In addition to the nine people facing misconduct proceedings, two further retired officers were found by West Midlands Police to have cases to answer for gross misconduct and misconduct but no action can be taken against them now, the IPCC said.

The BBC contacted one retired officer involved who declined to comment.

No action will be taken against another former officer who has moved on to a civilian role with a different force. Their new force disagreed there was a case to answer for misconduct, which the IPCC accepted.

Mr Lorenzo's battle

Image caption,
The appeal court heard Mr Lorenzo's claim he was assaulted, called a racial slur and held in a cell at Bournville Police Station for 23 hours

November 2007: Police arrest Mr Lorenzo's at his Edgbaston flat over an assault allegation, later withdrawn. Mr Lorenzo is charged and found guilty of assaulting an officer in custody - his conviction is later quashed on appeal

2008: An investigation by West Midlands Police's professional standards department finds its officers have no case to answer

October 2011: After proving his innocence, Mr Lorenzo pursues legal action and a jury at Birmingham County Court finds he was assaulted and racially abused by officers

December 2012: West Midlands Police fails in its appeal against the judgement at the Royal Courts of Justice in London

June 2013: The IPCC decides to investigate Mr Lorenzo's treatment in 2007 and the 2008 internal investigation

Mr Lorenzo was a roadie with rock band The Clash before he became a drummer, but he said injuries to his wrist during his 2007 arrest ended that.

A BBC Freedom of Information request revealed the force spent £149,143.90 on legal fees - it had to cover its own and was told to repay Mr Lorenzo's - in failing to refute Mr Lorenzo's claims in the appeal court.

Mr Lorenzo told the BBC: "The force have tried to defend what was indefensible but I am no longer surprised as this denial has always been part of their philosophy, 'never admit anything', just use a defence to discredit.

"Unfortunately the force are still in denial that racism in their ranks is still prevalent so they will use the resources they have to defend that stance and hope that complaints such as mine will just go away."

West Midlands Police said it was "aware" of this investigation and would work alongside the IPCC during ongoing misconduct proceedings.

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