A WEST Midlands policeman who was caught on camera telling a black man in a Coventry home, “You would be the first one I’d shoot if I had a gun” has avoided the sack after a long-running probe by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The officer in question has instead received a final written warning, despite national condemnation of the ‘racist and offensive’ remarks after the video went viral on the internet.
In the video filmed on a mobile phone by the black man Jack Chambers, 24, in August last year, the officer is also heard to say during an exchange: “You’re going to go Black Lives Matter on us, are ya?” His patrol team are seen smiling and laughing.
West Midlands Police at the time issued a statement saying the “apologetic” officer had been “removed from frontline duties” pending an internal investigation, and added the force had referred the matter to the IOPC, which was then called the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The IOPC said today: “A complaint was made on behalf of the man the comments were directed at, and following a referral from the force we began an investigation which looked at the conduct of those officers present.
“Our investigation included reviewing footage from the incident, taking statements from witnesses and interviewing the officers present. It was completed in March but release of our findings has awaited conclusion of misconduct proceedings.
“We found that the police constable who made the remarks had a case to answer for misconduct and the force agreed. At a misconduct meeting held by West Midlands Police on 8 June the case was proven and the officer given a final written warning.
“The officer told our investigator that he regretted making the comments and, while he accepted they had been unprofessional and clumsy, he had not meant them to be racist, offensive or threatening.
“Another police constable was dealt with through management action after it was agreed by the force that he had a case to answer for misconduct for not challenging the comments made by his colleague.”
IOPC Regional Director Commissioner Derrick Campbell said: “We are conscious of the impact on public confidence in policing such an incident can have. The remarks made were inappropriate and the officer who made them has been sanctioned accordingly after the force agreed with the findings of our investigation.”
The IOPC added: “We found no case to answer for two other officers as there was no evidence that that they had heard the comments. It was agreed that one of them, an acting sergeant, required performance measures over not correctly logging the search of the property.”
A former complaint had been lodged against all the officers involved by anti-racism campaigner Desmond Jaddoo, founder and organiser of the Birmingham Enpowerment Forum, after an initial complaint from the girlfriend of Mr Chambers.
Mr Jaddoo told us last year: “The officer made a statement which is totally unacceptable for any officer, while the other officers were laughing, which only compounded the issues that Jack faced.
“There was also a sergeant present. He showed a lack of leadership and should have pulled the officer up straight away.
“So on Jack’s behalf, we submitted another complaint against all the officers present. They should have pulled him up or gone back to the station and reported it.
“They failed the people in that building, their colleagues and the West Midlands public.
“I now welcome the fact the IPCC have confirmed that this is their investigation and it will be conducted independently.
“They will bring zero-tolerance to this type of behaviour. We’re in 2017, not 1970.”
The Coventry Observer raised a series of questions with the force and IPCC last year and we revealed the IPCC had initially decided to drop the investigation, before Mr Jaddoo’s intervention.
Mr Jaddoo told us today: “We welcome the fact they have taken the complaint seriously when considering the gravity of the offence. We welcome that West Midlands Police have taken formal action.
“I’m still of the opinion it was gross misconduct. However, the fact that the officer was charged with misconduct of which the harshest sanction is a final written warning is welcomed.”