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Two Met officers dismissed for use of excessive force on teenager

Two Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers have been dismissed without notice for punching and kicking a 14-year-old boy during his arrest before lying about the incident in their statements immediately after the incident.

The officers were dismissed at a gross misconduct hearing which concluded on 10 May and was a result of Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation.

The hearing was told that police constables Alexei Zalesskiy and Conor Ryan were accused of using excessive force on the child, who was part of a group of young people gathered at Finsbury Park, north London in April 2021.

Officers attended following reports of fighting in the park where a knife had been seen. A number of police units responded, and a group of young people were stopped by officers. A number of stop and searches were carried out but no knife was found.

(Image of Finsbury Park: By Stephen McKay, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13226287)

Teenager spat in officer’s face and ran

During attempts to disperse the group, one boy became agitated at being pushed by police. He started shouting at officers and spat in an officer’s face. He then ran from the officers who chased him on foot to arrest him for assaulting an officer.

The boy was detained on Wilberforce Road. He was placed in handcuffs and arrested for the assault on an emergency worker and a public order offence. The boy was not charged and no further action was taken.

During the arrest, PC Zalesskiy punched him at least once and PC Ryan kicked him in the neck/head area and struck him in the thigh with his knee. Evidence gathered by IOPC investigators included police body worn video and CCTV which showed the officers punching and kicking the boy.

IOPC also found evidence that they had lied on their statements immediately following the incident, dishonestly claiming they believed the boy was going to spit at PC Zalesskiy for a second time, justifying their actions.

The investigation began following a voluntary referral in April 2021 from the MPS about the officers’ conduct. It took five months to complete and IOPC concluded that there was a case to answer for gross misconduct against both officers and an indication they may have committed assault by beating, contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

At the end of the investigation, a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided not to authorise charges.

Gross misconduct allegations were proven

The hearing organised by the force and led by an independent and legally qualified chair found the gross misconduct allegations were proven. It was determined that the officers had breached police standards of professional behaviour for use of force and honesty and integrity.

IOPC Director Amanda Rowe said: “The force used on this child was neither reasonable nor proportionate in the circumstances.

“The public must have confidence that when officers are required to use force to detain and arrest members of the public, they will only use the minimum amount of force necessary.

“To compound matters, they then tried to justify their actions by lying on their initial statements following the incident.  Their dismissals send a strong message that there will be serious consequences for police officers who use gratuitous violence and are dishonest about their actions.

“Both officers will also be added to the police barred list, preventing them from future employment with any police service.”

(Source: IOPC)

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