PC punched my friend in face, witness tells trial

Mikael Boukhari
Mikael Boukhari alleges he was assaulted by the former police officer [BBC]

A witness in the trial of a former police officer accused of assault has said she recorded the incident as she thought “no-one’s going to believe” what she saw.

Tammy Foster Wells said she saw Gediminas Palubinskas, 34, who was a PC with Gwent Police at the time, punch her friend in the face.

At Swansea Crown Court Mr Palubinskas denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The incident is alleged to have taken place in Newport on 9 July, 2021 after Mikael Boukhari ran from officers when they tried to arrest him.

The court was told Mr Boukhari sustained a fracture in his hand and admits he also bit and punched the former constable.

Mr Boukhari faced questions from Sharonjit Bahia, defending, about why he ran away from officers.

He replied: “Because of the way he wanted to grab me”.

He was asked why he had bitten Mr Palubinskas if he was scared during the incident, and Mr Boukhari replied: “Because he was using all his power on me”.

The court also heard from Tammy Foster Wells, a friend of Mr Boukhari and the resident of the property where the incident took place.

Asked by Ieuan Rees, prosecuting, why she recorded the incident, Mrs Wells said she saw the officer punch her friend in the face and thought that she had to record it “because no-one’s going to believe what I just saw”.

She said she told the officer that "if you hit Mikael any more I’m going to have to hit you”, adding: "It was getting to the stage it was just continuous."

PC Ben Pesky, who was with Mr Palubinskas at the time, also gave evidence.

He said Mr Palubinskas “walked towards Mr Boukhari and stated that Mr Boukhari was under arrest” and that Mr Boukhari then ran off.

They split up as “a way to cut him off and intercept him” but he then heard a call from Mr Palubinskas over the radio and his emergency button went off.

On arrival at the scene “Mr Boukhari and PC Palubinskas were both on the floor in the rear corner” of the garden.

PC Pesky said an emergency button was often pressed "when there’s no other option, we’re in great danger and in need of urgent assistance”.

In a summary of an interview with Mr Palubinskas in November 2021, he said “he feared for his safety," that Mr Boukhari would "take a chunk" out of his arm and he "would bleed out”.

Mr Palubinskas said aimed the baton “for his leg to give him a dead leg” to prevent him from getting up and that he was “in a lot of pain” as Mr Boukhari bit him.

In the interview Mr Palubinskas said “Mr Boukhari was repeatedly asked to get off to which he responded "no” and that “Mr Boukhari was able to speak completely freely”.

He believed “the force was necessary and proportionate”.

The trial continues.