Police officer ‘punches man in wheelchair who spat at him’

A police officer is under investigation after footage emerged of him appearing to punch a disabled wheelchair user who allegedly spat at him.

In the video, the officer is seen grappling with the one-legged man outside a corner shop in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

According to witnesses, the officer took a bottle of alcohol from the man, who was “singing in the middle of the road,” before pushing him onto the pavement where he began “punching” the wheelchair user after he became abusive.

Norfolk Constabulary said it was investigating the officer’s conduct after video footage of the incident circulated online.

A spokesperson for the force said the man in the wheelchair was “abusive” and “spat” at the officer.

Scuffle ensued

The incident happened between 5pm and 6pm on Monday, May 20, outside a Londis shop on the corner of St Peters Road and King Street.

Justin Fenn, manager of the Londis shop, said his CCTV cameras had filmed the incident from several angles.

He said: “The policeman pulled up and the man was brandishing a bottle. He’s just tipped out contents and he’s brandishing it, instantly confrontational to the policeman.

“(The police officer) got the pepper spray. “He’s asking for assistance (via his radio set) because he (man in a wheelchair) is not doing anything rational.”

Mr Fenn’s footage showed the officer appearing to discharge a spray, and taking hold of the wheelchair, moving it and the man from the road onto the pavement, where a scuffle was worn.

He added: “(The police officer) has got the bottle, but the man’s grabbed the CS spray, and now the policeman is trying to get it back.

“The man in the wheelchair is in a very controlling position. He’s got hold of the CS spray and (the officer) is doing everything he can to get it back.

Diari ‘Jay’ Salih, 40, who runs to a barbershop opposite where the altercation happened, said onlookers were shocked by the incident.

He said when he saw what was happening he approached the police officer and told him to stop.

He said: “Nobody’s happy about this. “People around here now do not feel safe with the police.”

Another woman who works in the area and witnessed the incident said: “The man in the wheelchair is around here a lot of the time. Everybody knows him here.

“He had a bottle of alcohol in his hands. He was in the middle of the street. The police officer came from around the corner and pushed him to the corner.

“The man in the wheelchair did a movement like he was going to get up. Then the police officer started pushing and punching.”

‘Body-worn video’

The woman, who did not want to be named, added to a van with more police then arrived and the man in the wheelchair was eventually arrested.

Norfolk Constabulary said it was investigating the officer’s conduct after footage appeared online.

Chief Inspector Matt Dyson said: “We are aware of a video circulating on social media.

“The matter has been referred to the Professional Standards Department and we are conducting a thorough investigation of the circumstances including a review of the officer’s body-worn video.

“We will also be referring the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“We recognize the public concern around the level of force used in this incident and this will form part of our investigation.”

The force said a man in his 30s was arrested for a public order offense of causing harassment, alarm, or distress and assaulting an emergency worker.

He was taken to Great Yarmouth Police Investigation for questioning where he remains.