Officer who tasered naked man is innocent
A POLICE officer has been acquitted of assault and misconduct after Tasering a naked man who threw a pair of underpants at him during a strip search.
PC Lee Birch, 30, discharged his weapon into the bare chest of Daniel Dove in a cell at Melksham police station in Wiltshire in the early hours of 23 December 2012.
PC Birch had arrested Mr Dove earlier that morning, outside MooMoo nightclub in Trowbridge after he was ejected by door staff following an altercation with another clubber.
Mr Dove allegedly punched PC Birch in the head during his arrest, before kneeing another police officer in the groin three times, Bristol Crown Court heard.
He was taken to Melksham police station and put into a cell, where PC Birch – who had unholstered his Taser and concealed it behind his back – and two other officers began a strip search.
Mr Dove claimed he felt ‘humiliated’ when he was instructed to remove his wet boxer shorts and flicked them in the face of PC Birch – hitting him in the eye.
A CCTV camera in the cell caught PC Birch instantly swing his arm round, point the Taser at Mr Dove and discharge the weapon without any warning.
The respected police officer, who has served since 2007, was later charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and misconduct in public office.
But a jury of six men and six women took just an hour to find Pc Birch not guilty of each charge, following a five-day trial.
During the trial the jury heard that PC Birch and colleague PC David Read were on patrol in Trowbridge at 2am when they were flagged down by a MooMoo doorman for help.
PC Birch, of Melksham, restrained Mr Dove, who had consumed four pints of Fosters and two Jagerbombs, from behind and attempted to bring him towards the police car.
Mr Dove allegedly tried to punch PC Birch with a ‘classic Haymaker’ before kneeing PC Read in the groin three times – leaving him ‘hunched over and grimacing’, the officer said.
Giving evidence, Mr Dove denied he had assaulted either officer and claimed they had left him with wounds on his face by forcing him into a wet puddle on the ground.
“I was put on the floor by an officer and his colleague and they put on handcuffs,” he said. I was spitting out blood that was in my mouth because of the officers. I was compliant the whole time.”
Mr Dove was initially charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting two police officers, though the case against him was later dropped. CCTV video played to the court showed a handcuffed Mr Dove being brought into the custody suite at the station.
A strip search was authorised as Mr Dove had previously been found with cannabis in his jeans during an incident in 2009.
PC Birch removed the handcuffs from Mr Dove and the search commenced with two other officers assisting.
Mr Dove stripped to his boxer shorts before kneeling down to take them off. As he removed the wet pants, he flicked them in the face of PC Birch.
“I was compliant up to the point when I felt I was being humiliated,”" Mr Dove said.
“As soon as I flicked my pants at him, he pulled his arm up from behind his back and shot me with a Taser. By the time I had seen it, I had no time to react or move. I couldn’t hide anywhere. I was in a police station so couldn't run off. There was a lot of pain.”
PC Birch deployed his Taser before ripping the boxers from Mr Dove and throwing them against the wall of the police cell, the CCTV showed.
The officer then shouted: “You have assaulted me for the second time”, as Mr Dove lay prostrate on the ground with the prongs of the Taser in his chest.
Giving evidence, PC Birch claimed he could not have used any other methods of restraint. “He was naked and soaking wet. I would not wish to restrain a naked man. There was nothing to grab hold of – there’s no clothing to grab.”