Allegation of excessive force by South Wales Police officer found not proven

A gross misconduct hearing has found that force used by a South Wales Police officer on a man is custody was necessary, proportionate, and reasonable.

Nov 9, 2023
By Paul Jacques

The officer had been accused of breaching the standard of professional behaviour by using unnecessary force on Mohamud Hassan at Cardiff Bay police station.

The misconduct hearing panel found the allegations were not proven.

They concluded that the evidence supported the officer’s account, and that the use of force he used was “necessary, proportionate, and reasonable”.

The hearing on Wednesday (November 8) followed an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following a referral from South Wales Police in January 2021 into the actions of officers during the arrest and detention of Mr Hassan.

Mr Hassan was released from police custody at about 8.30am on January 9 that year and was found dead after 10pm at a property in Cardiff that evening.

The IOPC said it specifically looked at the contact police had with Mr Hassan, including whether force was used during his arrest and detention and if so, if it was reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the circumstances.

The officer told the hearing that he had heard Mr Hassan preparing to spit while they were walking through the station’s custody suite on January 8, 2021.

He said he held Mr Hassan’s head down to prevent him from spitting at himself and his colleagues.

The misconduct hearing was told that the time spent in custody was not a contributory factor to Mr Hassan’s death.

Assistant Chief Constable Danny Richards said:  “We acknowledge the impact Mohamud Hassan’s death has had on his family, friends, and the wider community. Our thoughts and condolences continue to be with them.

“We can only imagine how difficult this period has been for Mr Hassan’s family and the pain and grief that they are enduring after his death.

“Until this stage South Wales Police have been prevented from commenting on the death of Mr Hassan or the subsequent IOPC independent investigation.

“It is important to note the comments of the coroner at a previous pre-inquest review hearing who said the post-mortem had excluded a causal link between the actions of officers during the time of Mr Hassan’s detention in custody and his death several hours later.

“South Wales Police has fully cooperated with the IOPC investigation, providing them with information and material, including CCTV footage and body-worn video.

“We hope that this independent scrutiny and the outcome of the forthcoming inquest proceedings will provide answers to the many questions which have been raised about his death.”

IOPC director David Ford said: “Following the end of our investigation in July 2022 and having carefully considered the evidence obtained, we decided that a police sergeant had a disciplinary case to answer for gross misconduct over the force used in the custody suite at Cardiff Bay police station.

“At the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing, held at the force’s headquarters, and overseen by a legally qualified chair, the allegation of use of unnecessary force by the police sergeant on Mr Hassan was found not proven.

“Our role has been to examine the actions, decision making and conduct of police officers involved. Only a police misconduct panel, led by an independent and legally qualified chair, can decide whether or not the case was proven.

“Since completing our investigation, we shared our report with the coroner to assist with the inquest proceedings.

“It will be for the forthcoming inquest to determine exactly how Mr Hassan died and our thoughts remain with his family, and everyone affected by his death.”

In respect of the other police officers we had served notices on during our investigation, the IOPC said it found one police constable had a case to answer for misconduct over information relevant to Mr Hassan’s welfare potentially not being communicated to custody staff.

It added: “We found no case to answer for any other officers involved, but recommended that a custody officer and a police constable be required to take part in the reflective practice review process. This was to reflect on the adequacy of welfare checks they carried out while Mr Hassan was in custody.”

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