Disciplinary panel finds gross misconduct proven against Cambridgeshire traffic cop who had been acquitted by courts of dangerous driving
- Credit: © terry-harris.com
An independent police disciplinary panel has found gross misconduct proven against a former Cambridgeshire police officer for striking a suspect on foot twice with a police car during the same incident, following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation.
Lee Rumsey resigned from the force earlier this year but the misconduct hearing panel found that he would have received a final written warning, were he still serving as a police constable.
PC Rumsey was driving with a fellow officer on patrol in Peterborough at about 8.15pm on August 29, 2017 when they saw a Mercedes driving erratically on Morley Way and decided to carry out a stop.
The Mercedes failed to stop and after a brief pursuit it spun 180 degrees, came to a stop in Celta Way, and PC Rumsey intentionally drove the police car into the Mercedes.
The occupants ran away from the car and PC Rumsey drove after one of the men and struck him with the police vehicle. The man got up and ran up onto a footpath. The police car followed him and struck him a second time.
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The independent panel found PC Rumsey breached standards of professional behaviour by use of force in driving into the man that was not proportionate and contrary to training, and failing to act with self-control, after a two-day hearing arranged by Cambridgeshire Constabulary which concluded last Wednesday.
Am IOPC official said their investigation ended in December 2017 when they passed a file to Cambridgeshire Constabulary and to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). PC Rumsey was subsequently acquitted of dangerous driving following a trial.
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IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said: "While the use of a police vehicle as a means to end a pursuit is a legitimate tactic in certain circumstances, PC Rumsey chose to use it on a person fleeing on foot who posed no immediate risk to any members of the public.
"The force's training for officers does not include using vehicles to make contact with suspects on foot, and police officers have to use force in a manner which is justifiable and proportionate.
"We carried out a thorough investigation into the pursuit and apprehension of the man which concluded in December 2017. We interviewed PC Rumsey who declined to comment to our investigators.
She said: "We took into account a statement from the other officer in the vehicle, footage from the police vehicle, and examined force and national policies.
"Our role is to independently investigate and gather the relevant evidence to determine whether there is a case to answer for gross misconduct. Decisions based on the evidence are ultimately taken by a court, or by an independent panel at professional disciplinary proceedings."
The former traffic officer told the Daily Mail earlier this year: "I felt so betrayed. "They had one bite at court and then launched the disciplinary hearing, which was the last straw.
'They spent £100,000 on the prosecution and are spending another £50,000 on the disciplinary, which will probably still go ahead without me, but they left this guy on the streets to commit more offences."
Following the verdict, Liz Groom, chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation, tweeted to say the officer was "just doing his job... pursuing a fleeing suspect, catching criminals."
He has since become a lorry driver.