Officer who threatened to 'choke out' man cleared of misconduct
An officer from West Yorkshire Police who told a man he was struggling to arrest to “chill out or I’ll choke you out” has been cleared of misconduct.
Police Constable Graham Kanes told a disciplinary hearing that he regretted making the comment while he held Hassan Ahmed’s neck in an incident which was captured on video in Halifax, in August 2020.
PC Kanes had attended a disturbance at Spring Hall Gardens, Halifax, involving several people. While he was dealing with the situation, Mr Ahmed arrived and was subsequently arrested for assault by PC Kanes.
Mobile phone footage of the incident appeared to show the officer with his arm around the man’s neck. Mr Ahmed was heard to respond to the officer by saying: “I can’t breathe,” and: “I give up, I give up.”
The misconduct hearing heard evidence that this was the result of an approved police technique known as a ‘seatbelt take-down’ and not a choke hold.
An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) had found that PC Kanes had a case to answer for gross misconduct in respect of the use of force during the arrest, his use of threatening language, and for providing an inaccurate statement.
The IOPC directed the force to hold a misconduct hearing, resulting in the case against PC Kanes was not proven.
During the hearing it was said that PC Kanes regretted using the language and accepted it may have been insensitive.
The incident happened about three months after the death of George Floyd in the US, which attracted worldwide media attention.
After the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Shaf Rehman, of West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Directorate, said the force used by PC Kanes was found to be lawful.
He said: “Unfortunately, our officers do find themselves in situations where the use of force is required for the prevention or detection of crime or to prevent an individual from causing harm to themselves or others.
“It is vital however that any use of force is lawful, reasonable and proportionate; follows force policy and is in keeping with the training received.
“The finding of the hearing today has concluded that this was the case in relation to this officer.”
IOPC Regional Director Miranda Biddle said: “Incidents like this one can have damaging consequences for public confidence in the police and it is vital they are thoroughly investigated and reviewed independently.
“While we found PC Kanes’ behaviour may have amounted to a breach of the professional standards of behaviour, it is ultimately for the police misconduct panel, having considered all of the evidence, to reach a conclusion based on the evidence available. He admitted the words he used during the incident were not ideal and the panel accepted his explanation that he was doing his best to control a challenging situation.
“We are aware that this incident caused significant concern for our local communities. At the conclusion of these matters, we would like to provide assurance to the community that PC Kane’s actions have been independently reviewed by the panel and deemed not to warrant any further disciplinary action. We are grateful to the panel for their consideration.”