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Police officer ‘did not warn race relations adviser before Tasering him’

Acting sergeant Claire Boddie denies gross misconduct relating to the incident in Bristol in January last year.

A police officer gave no warning immediately before discharging her Taser at a race relations adviser she had mistaken for a wanted man, a misconduct hearing has been told.

Acting sergeant Claire Boddie was on uniformed duty with colleague Pc Darren Weston in the Easton area of Bristol at about 9.10am on January 14 last year.

The pair were driving to another incident when they saw Judah Adunbi, 65, walking on the side of the road with his dog and believed he might be wanted man Royston McCalla.

A misconduct hearing at Avon and Somerset Police headquarters in Portishead heard Mr Adunbi repeatedly refused to give the officers his identity, as is his right.

Pc Boddie drew her Taser and warned Mr Adunbi that she had done so, telling him to “calm down” while using the weapon to place a “red dot” on his body, before replacing it.

A short time later, she withdrew the X26 Taser again and deployed it on the community elder without warning after he resisted arrest at the gate of his property, the hearing was told.

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Judah Adunbi (Ben Birchall/PA)

One of the barbs struck Mr Adunbi in the face and had to be removed at hospital.

George Thomas, presenting the case against Pc Boddie for the appropriate authority, said the officer’s action was an “unnecessary, unreasonable or disproportionate use of force in the circumstances”.

He said Mr Adunbi was moving away from Pc Boddie at the time the Taser was discharged and had his hands down.

However, Pc Boddie insisted she acted in accordance with her training and the force she used was lawful, claiming that Mr Adunbi posed a threat due to the keys in his hand.

She said the wanted man, Mr McCalla, had markers for violence and weapons, and she increasingly believed Mr Adunbi was that person because of his actions.

Giving evidence at the hearing, Pc Boddie insisted that she used the National Decision Model at all times during the incident and described Mr Adunbi as a “violent man” who was in a “fighting stance”.

Mr Thomas asked Pc Boddie on eight occasions whether she had considered issuing a warning to Mr Adunbi before discharging the weapon.

“I don’t think it is a yes or no question,” she replied.

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A Taser (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“From his behaviour and his demeanour I believed he was Royston McCalla and he was using violence to escape from us.”

She said Mr Adunbi threatened to “put Pc Weston to sleep”, adding that she took this to mean: “That he was going to kill him.”

Footage taken from bodycams worn by the officers, as well as a mobile phone recording, was played to the hearing.

It showed them asking Mr Adunbi to identify himself, which he refuses and accuses them of racism.

He is heard shouting: “Why you coming to torment me? Go f*** off about your business and don’t follow me. Stop, stop, if you put your hand on me I’m gonna f*** you up.

“I’m not threatening you. I’m telling you if you put arms on me, I’m going to defend myself. This is not the first time you have done this.”

The hearing was told Mr Adunbi had previously been mistaken for Mr McCalla and was “indignant” at being stopped.

Pc Boddie said she deployed her Taser after believing that Mr Adunbi had “punched” her colleague Pc Weston, though footage shows this did not happen.

There was a “three-second window” between the apparent punch and Pc Boddie discharging the Taser.

“It doesn’t appear that she really takes any care to aim it, other than roughly in Mr Adunbi’s direction, before she pulls the trigger,” Mr Thomas said.

Pc Boddie insisted she was aiming for Mr Adunbi’s chest and it was “regrettable” that one of the barbs had hit him in the face.

In a statement, Pc Weston described Mr Adunbi as being immediately hostile to the two officers as they approached him in the street.

He claimed Mr Adunbi had crushed him with his gate and “wrenched” his left wrist away with force when the officer tried to apply handcuffs.

“I had genuine concern that I was going to get injured due to his irate behaviour and hatred of the police,” Pc Weston said.

“With others standing over us as we managed to get him to the ground, I had genuine fear for our safety.”

Pc Boddie joined the police as a special constable in 1994 and was authorised to carry a Taser following training in 2012.

Richard Sheppard, representing the officer, described his client as a “calm, trusted and fantastic” officer.

“There are no concerns about previous Taser deployment or previous actions,” Mr Sheppard told the hearing. “She acted perfectly properly.”

The panel, chaired by independent chair Peter Cadman, is expected to return its findings in the case on Wednesday.

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