Met police officer who used Taser on 10-year-old girl cleared of gross misconduct

A Metropolitan Police officer has been cleared of gross misconduct after being accused of using 'excessive force' on a 10-year-old.
A Metropolitan Police officer has been cleared of gross misconduct after being accused of using 'excessive force' on a 10-year-old.A Metropolitan Police officer has been cleared of gross misconduct after being accused of using 'excessive force' on a 10-year-old.
A Metropolitan Police officer has been cleared of gross misconduct after being accused of using 'excessive force' on a 10-year-old.

A Metropolitan Police constable, PC Jonathan Broadhead, who used a Taser on a 10-year-old girl wielding garden shears, has been cleared of gross misconduct by a disciplinary panel. The incident occurred on January 21, 2021, in south-west London, after the girl, referred to as Child A, threatened her mother with a hammer and the shears, prompting a 999 call.

Despite accusations that PC Broadhead's use of force was excessive and not justified, the panel's chairperson, Catherine Elliot, declared on Thursday that his actions were "necessary, reasonable, and proportionate in all the circumstances." She stressed that the discharge of the Taser was based on PC Broadhead's genuine belief that the girl posed a risk to himself and others, which was considered reasonable.

She said: “Having considered the evidence in great detail… the panel has concluded that PC Broadhead’s use of Taser on Child A was necessary, reasonable and proportionate in all the circumstances. The allegations are therefore not proved.”

She added: “The panel concludes that in discharging the first Taser, PC Broadhead’s action was based upon his honestly held belief she presented a risk to himself and others, and that this belief was reasonable in all the circumstances… It follows that when the first activation failed it was necessary and reasonable for him to discharge the Taser again.”

The facts of the case were not disputed but PC Broadhead argued the “Taser was the best option" he had after the girl “armed” herself with the shears on his arrival, posing a risk to him and others in the house.

A Metropolitan Police officer has been cleared of gross misconduct after being accused of using 'excessive force' on a 10-year-old.A Metropolitan Police officer has been cleared of gross misconduct after being accused of using 'excessive force' on a 10-year-old.
A Metropolitan Police officer has been cleared of gross misconduct after being accused of using 'excessive force' on a 10-year-old.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, he said: “I was worried what her intentions were with the shears, why, as soon as she’d seen us, she’d picked the shears up. I was worried about what she was going to do with them.” He said using his baton or Pava spray would not have been “appropriate” alternatives to his Taser.

Olivia Checa-Dover, presenting the case for the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog, argued Child A posed “no immediate threat” and claimed her age was not properly factored into PC Broadhead’s decision making. The child’s mother, Miss A, previously said she was “shocked” by “the way things were handled” by PC Broadhead, who she hoped would help verbally de-escalate the situation. Body-worn footage played during the hearing showed how PC Broadhead said “Put it down now” three times, referring to the shears, and “Police officer, Taser” before tasering the girl as she tried to go upstairs.

Miss A called police after Child A threatened her with the tools after she confiscated her mobile phone due to a safeguarding concern, the panel previously heard. She feared the girl’s behaviour may have been affected by consuming cannabis edibles and on Monday said that Child A hit her with the hammer after she called 999. The incident left Child A with “three barbs in her skin” which had to be removed by paramedics and she spent a night in hospital, Ms Checa-Dover previously said.

Met Police Commander Jon Savell said it was “an extremely rare and unusual case”. He added: “In the immediate days after the incident, a senior officer visited the address to apologise for the trauma caused to the girl and her family. Although no misconduct has been found, we repeat this apology today. The panel found that PC Broadhead did not breach professional standards based on the information known to him at the time and the clear threat presented, and that he had acted in accordance with his training for the safety of all those involved.”

The IOPC launched an investigation into PC Broadhead’s conduct in March 2021, after the force referred a complaint from the Child A’s father, and later decided he should face a gross misconduct hearing. IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: “Following our investigation, it was our view that an independent disciplinary panel could – based on the evidence – find that the officer had committed gross misconduct by breaching the standard of professional behaviour for use of force.

“But only a disciplinary panel – led by an independent, legally-qualified chair – can decide if the gross misconduct allegation is proven and the panel has now decided that the officer’s use of force was reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances. We did find the officers provided adequate aftercare to the child by calling paramedics to remove the Taser barbs, performing a partial search and keeping her in handcuffs. This meant that the barbs were not moved, which may have caused her further pain.”

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