Officers sacked for beating up innocent man

Police constables used 'excessive force' on group of three men after car chase in north London

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The Independent Online

Two Metropolitan police officers have been sacked for gross misconduct after an innocent man was dragged from his car, beaten and threatened with police dogs after a car chase into a housing estate.

The constables, aged 40 and 37, were dismissed for using "excessive force" after a group of police rounded on three men inside the car after they failed to catch the driver who fled. Two other constables were given final written warnings. Disciplinary hearings for two other officers, including a policewoman, will be heard at a later date.

One of the men, Ali Shahbazi, was handcuffed and slammed head-first into a fence so hard that his blood was left on it, according to a statement from his solicitor. He said he was kicked in the head, stamped on and abused by officers and left with a suspected broken nose and a swollen and marked face.

The incident started in the early hours of July 17, 2009, when four men and the driver they knew only as Steve went to try to buy alcohol at an off-licence. The driver drove off as soon as he saw a police patrol car, which tried to stop them and then followed them a short distance to an estate in Finchley, north London. The driver jumped out and ran away.

The other men followed police instructions and remained in the car until some of them were "forcibly removed", the investigation found. More than 20 officers and 10 cars were at the scene.

Two of the men were forced to the ground and a third was forced over the bonnet of a police car and allegedly had his head slammed on the bonnet, according to the men's solicitor Maria O'Connell. Mr Shahbazi, who was 18 at the time, told The Independent he was cuffed and pushed to the ground even though he did not put up any resistance. "I received kicks to the head. Then they pulled me off the floor and slammed me into a wooden fence and scraped me across it. One of the officers offered me some water – I didn't reply because I was in shock. He said something like: 'I'm offering you water' and sprayed it in my face.

"I kept getting threatened and told how they were going to take me in the back of the van and batter me. At this point my nose was bleeding; there was blood on the floor and on some of the officers. I'm obviously over the moon today, me and my whole family. We feel that justice has been served."

The men in the car – Mr Shahbazi, brothers Irfan and Idnam Ashraf and a fourth man – were not arrested or charged. The case was twice referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for possible criminal charges against the police officers in 2010 but it advised that no further action should be taken.

"Regardless of the CPS not bringing criminal proceedings against these four officers, we felt their behaviour was completely unacceptable and amounted to gross misconduct," said Commander Peter Spindler, of the Metropolitan Police's directorate of professional standards.

Ms O'Connell said: "The officers concerned are clearly unfit to hold such positions of power and responsibility in society."

She said that a civil claim would be lodged against the force.

Four senior officers placed under investigation over murder case

Nine police officers, at least four of them in senior positions, have been formally notified that they are under investigation following allegations of misconduct.

The misconduct claims were made in connection with a criminal inquiry into the Staffordshire Police investigation into the gangland murder of Kevin Nunes in 2002. In 2008 five men were jailed after being convicted of the murder.

Among the officers under investigation are Adrian Lee, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire and head of ethics at the Association of Chief Police Officers. Suzette Davenport, Northampton's deputy Chief Constable, is also being investigated.

A Staffordshire Police Authority spokesman stressed that the notices of investigation were "not judgmental in any way" and did not indicate wrongdoing.