Faruk Ali: Family praise '˜right verdict' as PCs are sacked for gross misconduct
The brother of an autistic man who was '˜attacked' by two Beds Police PCs has said that their dismissal was the 'right verdict'.
This morning PC Christopher Thomas and PC Christopher Pitts were sacked from the force for gross misconduct, following an eight day misconduct hearing.
On February 20 2014 the pair chased and detained Mr Ali outside his home in Whitby Road, Luton, while the 33-year-old was taking the bins out.
Following a criminal trial in December 2014 both officers were found not guilty of misconduct in a public office, while PC Thomas was also cleared of racially aggravated assault over the incident.
However they will no longer have a future in the force after a misconduct panel sitting in Wyboston found that they breached standards of professional conduct.
On the decision, Faruk’s brother Kodor told the Luton News: “It has been a long time coming, we have been fighting the case for the last two years.
“It was the right verdict, the evidence was damning.
“It was quite clear, what they were saying in their statements and what was in the evidence was miles apart.
“It was blatant they were trying to a make a story up to account for their actions.
“We would like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the case as without that we wouldn’t have achieved what we did today.”
One of the pieces of evidence aired during the misconduct hearing was in-car footage from the officers’ vehicle, in which both PCs can be heard laughing.
Kodor told the Luton News that he still believes that the footage should be released to the media and made public.
He added: “This footage has already been played twice but for the sake of transparency I think it should be available to the public at large.
“We are speaking to our legal advisors, we wll probably push for that.”
The misconduct panel found PC Thomas guilty of gross misconduct for breaches of honesty and integrity, authority respect and courtesy, equality and diversity (disability) and discreditable conduct.
It also found PC Pitts, from Bedford, guilty of gross misconduct in relation to breaches of honesty and integrity, authority respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.
Beds Police deputy chief constable Mark Collins has apologised to Mr Ali and his family for the ‘distress’ the incident caused them.
He said: “We are committed to supporting vulnerable people which is a priority for this organisation and I see excellent examples on a daily basis where we provide that support to the most vulnerable in our society.
“However, on this occasion the two officers’ conduct has fallen well below any standard that is acceptable in policing and they have now paid the ultimate sanction in losing their jobs.
He added: “This should send a very clear message to police officers that this type of behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
“It also demonstrates how committed we are to tackling unprofessional behaviour which has no place at Bedfordshire Police.
“I’m sure officers across the force, and indeed the country, will share my disappointment at the actions of PCs Thomas and Pitts and the damaging impact it will have on confidence in policing.
“We are committed to rebuilding that trust and confidence and will continue to work hard with our communities in order to protect people and fight crime.
“We appreciate this has been a long process for all those involved but it was only right that every aspect of this case was thoroughly investigated and scrutinised in a transparent manner and I would like to thank people for their patience.”
Tom Purser, a spokesperson for the National Autistic Society, welcomed the panel’s verdict.
He said: “This has been a deeply concerning case and we’re pleased that the deputy chief constable has apologised to Faruk and his family for the extreme distress caused by the actions of his officers in 2014.
“A traumatic experience like this will have had a lasting effect on Faruk and the Ali family, so it’s important that there have been consequences for the officers involved.
“Over one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and, when they are overwhelmed and anxious, their actions can be misinterpreted and situations involving the police can escalate.
“At the National Autistic Society we believe this case has shown again how vital it is that the police and other criminal justice personnel have autism training.”