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Police officer cleared of teen assault

PUBLISHED: 14:55 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:39 16 August 2010

AN OFFICER caught on CCTV kneeing a teenage boy three times has been cleared of assault. Jonathan Booth, 44, who gave his address as Bromley Police Station,

AN OFFICER caught on CCTV kneeing a teenage boy three times has been cleared of assault.

Jonathan Booth, 44, who gave his address as Bromley Police Station, was found not guilty of assault at Croydon Magistrates Court on Friday.

Mr Booth, also a part-time scout leader, was filmed on CCTV kneeing a handcuffed 17-year-old boy in a holding room in The Glades shopping centre on May 24 last year.

But the Bromley police officer, who has served in the force for 22 years, claimed he kneed the boy to calm him down.

Mr Booth said: "A knee strike is the least force I could use. I told him to back off and keep quiet I thought he was going to head-butt me. It is a distraction strike. It was only the third one that worked.

"The first one missed, the second one hit his hip bone which may be painful but he was still tense. The third one hit the muscle. He relaxed and gave me the opportunity to get him to the ground."

An expert witness in the use of force by police officers, Kenneth Carvelli, said the knee strikes did not seem effective as the boy would have been not have been able to use his leg 'for a long time'.

A police inspector for Scotland Yard and trainer in officer safety, Nicolas Sutcliffe, said: "I have concerns as to why those group of tactical options were used."

He said it was not a technique which would normally be used to calm somebody down.

Detective Chief Inspector of Southwark Police Station Darren John Williams managed Mr Booth for three years and his son attends his cub-scout class.

He said: "John takes the image of the police service very seriously. John doesn't suffer fools too gladly. He's not hot-headed. John was a real role-model to the officers on that team."

Chair of the Magistrates Geoffrey Wilshier said: "We have had expert witnesses say the use of knee strikes can be an appropriate use of action.

"We find that the force used was appropriate."

Now Mr Booth faces an internal police disciplinary hearing which could lead to a dismissal with loss of pension. He remains on desk duty.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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