Investigation over PC 'striking' man in wheelchair

An investigation has begun into a police officer's conduct after a video emerged of an altercation during the arrest of a man in a wheelchair.

The footage, shared on social media, showed the officer apparently striking the man outside a shop in Great Yarmouth at about 17:15 BST on Monday.

Norfolk Police said the man, who was arrested on suspicion of public order offences, was being "verbally abusive" and had threatened the officer "with a bottle".

"We recognise the public concern around the level of force used in this incident and this will form part of our investigation," said Ch Insp Matt Dyson, the local policing commander.

Police officer on left holding a spray towards a man in a wheelchair
The footage appears to show the police officer discharging a spray during the altercation [Justin Fenn]

He added: "We are aware of a video circulating on social media. The matter has been referred to the Professional Standards Department and we are carrying out a thorough investigation of the circumstances, including a review of the officer's body worn video."

Carla Carvalho, 43, who works at a nearby business, said she saw the incident, which took place outside a Londis shop on St Peter's Road.

She described how the man in the wheelchair had been "in the middle of the road, dancing and singing and all happy when the policeman comes and stops him".

She said: "He was trying to get up with a bottle of beer in hand and I think the police guy thinks he was going to throw the bottle at him.

"Then you see in the video the police guy punches him."

"Whatever they say to each other I don't know, but he doesn't need to do this. He should be waiting for other ones [police officers]."

Carla Carvalho standing outside the Londis shop on St Peter's Road
Carla Carvalho says she was nearby and saw the arrest being made [Andrew Turner/BBC]
Justin Fenn standing next to his CCTV monitor
Justin Fenn says he has supplied footage and a statement to police [Andrew Turner/BBC]

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

Commentating on the footage, he said: "The policeman pulled up and the man's brandishing a bottle. He's just tipped out contents and he's brandishing it, instantly confrontational to the policeman.

"I can only imagine the policeman's asked him to move, and he just wants to have an argument. He's shouting and screaming.

"[the police officer] got the pepper spray. He's asking for assistance [via his radio set] because he [man in wheelchair] is not doing anything rational."

The police officer appears to discharge a spray, and takes hold of the wheelchair, moving it and the man from the road onto the pavement, where a scuffle ensues.

Mr Fenn 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 he [the policeman] is doing everything he can to get it back.

"The policeman is just defending himself."

Norfolk Police said a man in his 30s was arrested on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm or distress and assaulting an emergency worker. The force said it had referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

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