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Met Police constable ‘tasered 10-year-old girl twice’

Pc Jonathan Broadhead accused of using force ‘not necessary, reasonable and proportionate’ during gross misconduct hearing

Tara Cobham
Monday 27 November 2023 16:20 GMT
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A Metropolitan Police constable tasered a 10-year-old girl twice after she threatened her mother with garden shears and hit her with a hammer, a misconduct hearing has been told
A Metropolitan Police constable tasered a 10-year-old girl twice after she threatened her mother with garden shears and hit her with a hammer, a misconduct hearing has been told (PA Archive)

A Metropolitan Police constable tasered a 10-year-old girl twice after she threatened her mother with garden shears and hit her with a hammer, a misconduct hearing has been told.

Pc Jonathan Broadhead fired his Taser at the girl twice within “approximately eight seconds” of entering her home in south-west London on January 21 2021, after her mother called 999.

He is accused of using force “which was not necessary, reasonable and proportionate” against the girl, referred to as Child A during his Met Police gross misconduct hearing at Palestra House in London.

Beginning on Monday, the four-day hearing was told the girl was still clutching the garden shears when Pc Broadhead, who is currently only on restricted duties, discharged the Taser and had not listened to his commands to drop them.

Child A had grown angry with her mother, Miss A, after she confiscated her mobile phone because of a safeguarding concern about her online activity, the hearing was told.

Giving evidence, Miss A said she feared the girl’s behaviour may have been affected by consuming cannabis edibles, and said she called 999 after she started threatening her with the hammer and shears.

She claimed her daughter hit her with the hammer before police arrived, but said she was a safe distance away from her when officers got there and did not want her to be tasered.

Olivia Checa-Dover, a barrister presenting the case for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog, said: “This case is about Pc Broadhead’s use of force in discharging his Taser twice against a 10-year-old girl on the 21st of January 2021.

“The IOPC contends that the force used breached the standard of professional behaviour on use of force amounting to gross misconduct.

“The officer accepts the factual elements – so, deploying the Taser twice in those circumstances – and so the issue for this panel is not whether this happened but whether it was consistent (with the) high standards that apply to all police officers or was a breach.”

She said Pc Broadhead and his colleague, Pc Steven Morgan, arrived at the address following Miss A’s 999 call reporting that her daughter was using a hammer and garden shears to “bang things” and threaten her.

The “brief circumstances including the age of Child A were relayed over the airwaves to the officers” before they arrived, Ms Checa-Dover added.

She said: “What happened upon arrival is captured upon their body-worn footage. The front door was opened by Miss A – in my submission by that stage she was presenting as calm.”

She said: “Child A is seen some way from the door, further along the hallway” and “appears to pick something up – now understood to be shears – from the floor”.

She added: “The officer instructed her to put them down, which she did not do.

“She walked away from those present, moving up the stairs of the home.

“The officer didn’t speak to Miss A to clarify the present situation or whether there was anyone else in the house; rather, he advanced into the house announcing he was a police officer with a Taser and soon thereafter using his Taser twice on her whilst she was on the stairs.”

Ms Checa-Dover said the incident left Child A with “three barbs in her skin” which had to be removed by paramedics.

“She was kept in hospital overnight, discharged the following day, at which point the barb injuries were still tender,” she said

She added: “The panel must decide whether using a Taser on a child of that age and size whilst she was on the stairs of her home was consistent with a breach of the standard of professional behaviour requiring all force used to be necessary, reasonable and proportionate.”

Giving evidence on Monday, Miss A said: “I wanted the police to help me convince (her) to put down the shears and the hammer… by talking to her.”

Recalling what happened when she opened the door and let the officers in to the property, she said. “Everything was really quick, they came in.

“I remember standing next to them and then slightly behind. They charged in front of me, there was a lot of shouting ‘Taser, Taser, Taser’.

“I remember my daughter sitting in the kitchen on a chair with the hammer and shears and she quickly got up – I felt that she was scared – and she quickly ran up the stairs.

“As she was running up the stairs she was shot with the Taser.”

Miss A said she was “shocked” by “the way things were handled”, adding: “She was told to drop it. She didn’t listen… I wouldn’t have called the police if I knew she would have been tasered.

“She appeared to be in pain, she was screaming ‘ouch’.

Asked if the experience has affected whether she would call the police again, she said: “If a child’s involved, yes. Just because of the experience I want through with my daughter, I wouldn’t want that to happen to another child again.”

Robert Morris, representing Pc Broadhead, said: “Child A has had an awful lot to deal with as a young girl”.

He told Miss A: “Things had got really bad on that day… and it started off because you were concerned with your daughter and who she was dealing with online.

“You were concerned for her welfare and so you had taken away her mobile phone, and she reacted very badly to that… she just got more and more aggressive.”

He added: “It must have been shocking when she came back, having armed herself with those two weapons, but it wasn’t that she came back and just sat at the table – she came back and started hitting things in your property.

“She was hitting the walls and the mirrors and she also hit you, didn’t she, with the hammer?”

Miss A said: “She did.”

He added: “As well as the hammer, she was brandishing these shears at you and threatening you and that scared you?”

Miss A replied: “Yes.”

Mr Morris went on: “So when you called up 999 it was because you were scared of what your daughter might do to you? You were frightened and you couldn’t reason with her?”

Miss A said: “Correct.”

On Monday, Pc Morgan said he was concerned for his own safety during the incident and that the 10-year-old, still armed with the shears, had gained a “positional advantage” after she moved on to the stairs.

Asked why he at no point challenged Pc Broadhead “on the basis he used disproportionate force”, he said his colleague’s actions had brought the high-risk situation to a “safe halt”.

It comes after the Met’s internal investigation initially cleared Pc Broadhead of wrongdoing – but the force referred itself to the IOPC in early 2021 after receiving a complaint, which launched a fresh review of the case.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog concluded Pc Broadhead had a case to answer for gross misconduct, following an investigation.

However, the Met said Pc Broadhead did not face any criminal charges over the incident following an assessment by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The hearing continues.

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