Police use of force in Sandwell incident 'necessary'

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West Midlands Police said the video was shocking but had been edited

Police officers' use of force to restrain a man, footage of which was widely shared on social media, was "necessary and proportionate", a watchdog has found.

West Midlands Police referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following the incident in Sandwell in February 2019.

The IOPC said the footage "was not wholly representative of the incident".

West Midlands Police said it "does not underestimate the impact" of the film.

The seconds-long video filmed through an open door, showed a man being repeatedly struck around the head.

Previously, officers acknowledged the video was shocking but said it was "edited".

Police said they were called to the scene by a doctor conducting a mental health assessment, who was assaulted by a man with a metal crutch.

Following its investigation, the IOPC said officers entering the property were "met with aggression" by the 38-year-old.

"Without warning one of the officers was struck and injured," it said.

A further three officers were involved in the restraint, "one of whom repeatedly struck the man over the head while holding a can of incapacitant spray," the IOPC said.

Describing the approach as "unconventional," the watchdog said the man had been violent and was refusing to co-operate, and that body-worn video supported the officer's account. It concluded it was "satisfied the use of force was necessary and proportionate".

However, one officer is to "face management action for using inappropriate language" the watchdog said, although this was not racist in nature.

The man's legal team claimed he was discriminated against due to his race, but the IOPC said it found no evidence of this.

The man was treated in a mental health facility following the incident.

Following the IOPC's findings, Ch Spt Chris Todd from West Midlands Police said the force did not "underestimate the impact that the footage of this incident had on the public's confidence in policing", but said "officers were found to have been justified in their actions".

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