Police Federation

Case study: Misconduct over Taser

PC David 'Harry' Carpenter feared losing his job and his liberty after deploying Taser.

His two-and-half-year ordeal began in August 2017, when officers pursued a car carrying a man wanted for assaulting his girlfriend. The suspect, who was being driven by his mother, fled on foot and was hiding in an alley.

PC Carpenter tracked him down and called for back-up. A female colleague joined him. He said: "I knew this guy had previous for attacking police officers and women, so I drew my Taser." The suspect ignored a warning to stand still and was Tasered. He fell and received cuts to his face.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as was, took up the case and served papers on PC Carpenter for grievous bodily harm (GBH) and misconduct. The Crown Prosecution Service decided the case warranted no further action, but the complainant appealed and the CPS looked into it two more times, before reaching the same conclusion. The IPCC’s successor, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), directed the force to hold a misconduct hearing against PC Carpenter.

He said: "It was nerve wracking waiting for the panel’s decision. Thankfully it also resulted in no further action. It got back to me that the complainant had only pursued it because he thought he might get compensation. I’d had my Taser authority suspended but was still being sent to violent situations. I gave first aid to a stabbing victim and was told I shouldn’t be at work, as my resilience levels were at zero."

PC Carpenter needed professional help to recover but even now finds himself "second guessing" his every decision. The worry that he could lose his job or be jailed had a huge effect on his family. "The IPCC/IOPC never produced evidence to prove GBH. How could they put me through this for two years?" he said. "A time limit would definitely have improved things because it was so open ended and unfair."

PC David Carpenter
North Yorkshire Police

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