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Moment police officer trips man to the ground and pepper sprays him

Judge blasts police for being ‘heavy-handed’ with clubber after tripping him to the ground and pepper spraying him when he refused to go away

  • Jurors raised concerns about the behaviour of arresting officers in the build up

The shocking moment a police officer trips a man to the ground before pepper spraying him without warning has been caught in arrest footage, with a judge blasting the ‘heavy-handed’ approach.  

Daniel James, 45, was detained after refusing to leave the scene in Oxford where a woman had suffered a medical episode. After being accused of filming paramedics, he was pushed and tripped by officers who used a force-issue Captor pepper spray on him.

Bodyworn footage of the arrest – that was released by Thames Valley Police after an appeal to the judge – shows James being restrained on the ground, before he spits at an officer and is accused of biting another copper’s ankle.

He was convicted of common assault in relation to the spitting, but cleared of the ankle bite after a trial at Oxford Crown Court.

After delivering the verdict, jurors took the extraordinary step of raising concern about the behaviour of the arresting officers. In a note passed to the judge, they wrote: ‘The way Mr James was treated in the build up to these events felt very heavy-handed and appear very provocative.

Jurors raised concerns about the behaviour of officers in the build up to Daniel James’ (pictured), 45, arrest

‘We empathise with Mr James’ sense of injustice at being sprayed and taken to the floor.’

And their view was echoed by Judge Ian Pringle KC, who took what he described as an ‘exceptional’ course and imposed a two year conditional discharge when he sentenced James on Friday, August 25.

After reading the jury’s statement, Judge Pringle added: ‘It seems that my view of this case was not isolated.’

He said he saw ‘no good reason’ for the defendant to have been sprayed in the face with Captor by PC Lewis Quarterman.

‘I don’t think there was any necessity for you to be treated in the way that you were in the initial part of this episode,’ he said, although he added that spitting at a police officer was ‘behaviour we can’t accept’.

Footage from the police officers’ body-worn cameras captured the moment James was sprayed by PC Quarterman in Cornmarket in the early hours of June 5 last year.

During the trial, the court heard that police were called to Cornmarket at around 3.30am on June 5 last year by paramedics whose attempts to treat a woman who had collapsed near the Plush nightclub attracted a crowd of curious onlookers.

In the footage, an officer, known as PC North was one of the first to arrive and went straight to James and told him to move on.

Footage from the police officers’ body-worn cameras captured the moment James was sprayed by PC Quarterman in Cornmarket in the early hours of June 5 last year 

The suspect was taken to the floor and pinned by around four or five officers

James who is seen handcuffed was convicted of common assault after spitting on a police officer

Initially, James protested and said he did not have a camera and was not filming but PC North then tried to push the defendant backwards.

James tells the officer to ‘suck your mum’, which was when PC Quarterman ran up to him and sprayed him in the face without warning.

The same officer then, in the words of the judge, ‘tripped’ the defendant up to get him to the ground.

They detained James while members of the public filmed and asked the PCs to get the man water.

Two officers, PCs Henry Lapworth and David Griffiths, took the suspect to the back of a police van to search him. The back doors were open, as was the door to the ‘cage’ inside the vehicle.

Footage captured a police officer tripping James to the ground 

During the trial, the court heard that police were called to Cornmarket at around 3.30am on June 5 last year by paramedics whose attempts to treat a woman who had collapsed near the Plush nightclub attracted a crowd of curious onlookers

Jurors took the extraordinary step of raising concern about the ‘heavy handed’ behaviour of the arresting officers

On the footage, the wet pepper spray was still apparently visible on his face, and he is heard telling officers: ‘I didn’t do nothing. Why the f*** you treat me like this. You spray me and all of that, blud.’

PC Lapworth told him: ‘Don’t look in my face. You’re covered in Captor, buddy.’

James, who is black, accused the officers of being ‘f***ing racist’, with PC Lapworth replying: ‘I don’t think we are.’

James’ face could be seen turning towards the officer’s camera. PC Lapworth’s voice was heard saying: ‘Do not look at me like that [*] you’re going to spit, you dirty little s***.’

As the camera panned back across, white-flecked spittle was seen on the lower half of the police van door.

The suspect was taken to the floor and pinned by around four or five officers. One of them, PC Griffiths, claimed to have been bitten in the lower leg by James, telling jurors he had looked down to see James’ teeth around his boot and the lip of his sock.

Photographs taken later that evening showed no marks to the boot or ankle, and the jury found James not guilty of assaulting the constable.

From the witness box, the defendant suggested the first officer who came up to him ‘seemed to pick me out’. The spray was ‘burning’ his eyes, causing them to stream and his mouth to run with saliva. He had not intended to spit at the officer, he said, but because of the pepper spray on his face.

Initially, James protested and said he did not have a camera and was not filming but PC North then tried to push the defendant backwards

Thames Valley Police initially refused to release the footage shown in open court to the press but it was released after a formal application was made to the judge

His account echoed what he told the police during his police interview.

In a prepared statement he said he felt he was sprayed ‘far too soon’ and ‘wasn’t given an opportunity to avoid such treatment by the officers’. He accepted ‘reacting badly to being sprayed’, but added: ‘I felt it was so unjust.’

Thames Valley Police initially refused to release the footage shown in open court to the press but it was released after a formal application was made to the judge by the Oxford Mail.

A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said after the hearing: ‘The matter has been referred to our Professional Standards Department. It would be inappropriate to comment further.’

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