G20 officer 'feared he could break woman's bones'

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The Independent Online

A riot squad officer told a court today he feared he could break the bones of a G20 protester as she confronted him outside the Bank of England.

Metropolitan Police Sergeant Delroy Smellie, 47, is on trial accused of assaulting animal rights activist Nicola Fisher by hitting her leg with his extendable metal baton.



He said other physical tactics could have easily left her with a broken jaw or arm, particularly as he was considerably bigger than Ms Fisher.



Giving evidence in his defence, Smellie told City of Westminster Magistrates' Court he considered using the baton earlier in the confrontation.



He said: "We are taught an elbow strike as well as a use of force we can use. It is an empty-handed technique. If you were not using an asp or CS gas spray you can use an elbow.



"But even in those short seconds when I have caught her in my peripheral vision, I am thinking an elbow strike, the size differential.



"Does it really need a broken jaw, which could easily have happened if I struck her with my left elbow in her face?



"I thought that the most reasonable level of force would be a flick with the hand as a distraction clearance."



Smellie added that he also considered striking Ms Fisher's arm with his baton to knock suspected weapons out of her hand.



He said: "The force of the strike, the differential in size, I could easily have snapped that arm."



The officer, a senior member of the London force's territorial support group, clashed with 36-year-old Ms Fisher during a vigil to mark the death of Ian Tomlinson on April 2 last year.



The court has heard he shouted at her before roughly pushing her back and striking her with the back of his hand when he was left isolated behind a police cordon.



Prosecutors accept these actions were lawful but allege his decision to hit Ms Fisher twice with his baton, known as an asp, leaving her with substantial bruising, was a criminal act.



The clash was caught on several photographs and on video, gaining international notoriety when one version was posted on the website YouTube.



Smellie said none of the photographs or video clips caught by dozens of people surrounding him during the incident precisely recreated his experience.



He said: "Not one photograph or piece of footage comes close to reflecting the fear as I turned around to see this crowd and its proximity, both to myself and my officers."



He added: "At the time I thought, this is it. She is deliberately coming from a blind spot.



"The reason she is coming from a blind spot is to hide her intention so she can approach and attack her target - me."



Asked if an officer faced with a non co-operative person can automatically justify force, Smellie said: "Ridiculous."



Under cross-examination, prosecutor Nick Paul questioned whether the officer acted with complete self-control, particularly as he cannot remember hitting her the second time.



He said: "The fact you have used your asp twice and the fact you still cannot recollect it must cast some doubt on your decision and the fact you were fully in control at that stage."



Smellie replied: "That suggestion would be incorrect."



Asked about his suspension from duty last April, Smellie said he could not understand why he was not allowed to continue working.



He said: "I do not understand it now. It has been explained to me in a number of different ways, but I still do not understand the reason for my suspension."



The court heard father-of-two Smellie, who is originally from Bolton, joined the Metropolitan Police in 1991 after spending his teenage years in Jamaica.



The officer said he has worked on "hundreds" of public order operations including clashes outside the Israeli Embassy last January, arms fairs and Chelsea and Millwall football matches.



Smellie, who gave his address as care of a territorial support group base in Larkhall Lane, Clapham, denies a single charge of assault by beating.



The case continues.