Two Merseyside Police Officers were sacked today for gross misconduct after the IPCC upheld a complaint by Kyle Wardle, a man who was wrongly arrested and subjected to five unjustified rounds of Taser in December 2009.
Kyle McArdle was detained by officers from Merseyside Police when he was spotted urinating in an alley off Elliot Street in Liverpool city centre.
Kyle was put into the back of a police van and hit with five rounds of Taser, including three times in 'drive-stun' mode where the weapon was pressed against his chest, leg and upper abdomen. The arresting officers said he was 'violent' and Taser was needed to restrain him.
Taser barbs were also removed from Mr McArdle’s chest in contravention of Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) guidelines that say they should only be removed by a medical professional unless there is an ‘operational necessity’. The officer who took them out said he feared Mr McArdle would remove them himself and use them as weapons.
Mr McArdle, 26, was charged with assaulting two of the officers but was found not guilty at a magistrates’ court hearing.
He then made a number of complaints, including that multiple use of Taser in the confined space of a police vanwas disproportionate.
After investigating the complaints Merseyside recommended officers receive management advice about their 'lawful' use of powers.
Unhappy that the force had not properly addressed his complaint about the extent of force used against him, Mr McArdle appealed to the IPCC. The appeal was upheld and the IPCC recommended Merseyside re-investigate, this time considering if the use of Taser would be justified had the victim been lawfully arrested.
Merseyside then asked its lead Taser instructor to examine the case. The officer concluded the force used was "necessary, proportionate, reasonable and in line with the officers’ training and Acpo Association of Chief Police Officers) guidance”.
A second appeal, which was also upheld, was lodged with the IPCC who found that the officers should have been served with notices for gross misconduct and interviewed under caution. The IPCC also said that insufficient weight was given to Mr McArdle’s version of events and the evidence that supported his account. That evidence included CCTV footage that did not support the officers’ claims that he had been violent and needed to be restrained.
The IPCC also said it was concerned that Merseyside’s lead Taser instructor was uncritical of the officers’ use of the weapon and relied solely on their version of events.
Following the second upheld appeal Merseyside police held a misconduct hearing for two of the officers that began on 30 September. It ended with the dismissal of PCs Simon Jones and Joanne Kelly after gross misconduct was proven. A third officer, Sergeant Charlie Tennant, had already been dismissed from the force for an unrelated matter.
IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: "To enjoy public confidence it is important police officers only use force, including Taser, as a last resort; and then only at the minimum level necessary for the threat they actually face. The IPCC recognises that there is public concern over the considerable increase in Taser use – not only in the number of officers using it but also in circumstances where it would not have been used previously - and the significant rise in complaints that has accompanied that. Incidents such as this do nothing to alleviate that public concern.
"While we welcome the robust action eventually taken by the force in response to our appeal findings it is a concern that Merseyside’s lead Taser instructor lacked objectivity and presented as fact the officers’ version of events without challenge. It is important that when things do go wrong complaints are addressed thoroughly and responded to robustly. We hope the force will take on board learning from these events for the future.”