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Wiltshire Police officer acquitted after Tasering naked man
Updated 2:02pm Tuesday 29th April 2014 in News
A POLICE officer has been acquitted of assault and misconduct after Tasering a naked man who threw a pair of underpants at him during a strip search.
PC Lee Birch, 30, discharged his weapon into the bare chest of Daniel Dove in a cell at Melksham police station in Wiltshire in the early hours of December 23 2012.
PC Birch had arrested Mr Dove earlier that morning, outside MooMoo nightclub in Trowbridge after he was ejected by door staff following an altercation with another clubber.
Mr Dove allegedly punched Pc Birch in the head during his arrest, before kneeing another police officer in the groin three times, Bristol Crown Court heard.
He was taken to Melksham police station and put into a cell, where PC Birch - who had unholstered his Taser and concealed it behind his back - and two other officers began a strip search.
Mr Dove claimed he felt "humiliated" when he was instructed to remove his wet boxer shorts and flicked them in the face of PC Birch - hitting him in the eye.
A CCTV camera in the cell caught PC Birch instantly swing his arm round, point the Taser at Mr Dove and discharge the weapon without any warning.
The respected police officer, who has served since 2007, was later charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and misconduct in public office.
But a jury of six men and six women took just an hour to find Pc Birch not guilty of each charge, following a five-day trial.
Wiltshire Police Chief Superintendent Paul Mills said: "On Sunday 23 December 2012 during the course of his duty, PC Lee Birch, a serving Wiltshire Police Officer, arrested Daniel Dove on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and assault of two police officers.
"Later, in a cell at Melksham Police Station, Daniel Dove was Tasered by PC Birch.
"The case against Daniel Dove was discontinued and subsequently, PC Birch was summonsed to court in relation to offences of actual bodily harm (ABH) and misconduct in a public office relating to the use of the Taser.
"Today at Bristol Crown Court, PC Lee Birch has been found not guilty of both charges.
"The use of Taser is one of a number of tactical options available to selected officers who have undertaken rigorous training and assessment.
"During their training, it is highlighted to officers that the level of force used must be reasonable and necessary to achieve the purpose. Officers are individually accountable for the amount of force they use on a person and will always have to justify their actions as being necessary and proportionate under the law.
"The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are currently conducting a managed investigation independently of Wiltshire Police.
Their investigation will now consider whether PC Birch has breached the standards of professional behaviour expected of all Police Officers.
"Wiltshire Police have also commissioned an independent peer review by the College of Policing in relation to the Force Taser policy and procedures. This was to ensure that the Force was in line with national standards and best practice. Although not specific to this case, we have accepted the recommendations from this review and have subsequently re-written our Taser policy. We have also changed our processes for the selection of Taser trained officers.
"Wiltshire Police wish to reiterate that it expects the highest standards of professional behaviour from its police officers and staff. Furthermore, there are a clear set of organisational values and behaviours that all officers and staff are expected to adhere to.
"Finally I also wish to emphasise that the safety of all detained persons in our care is of paramount importance and taken very seriously indeed.
"Due to the ongoing IPCC investigation, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time."