Police officer left with brain bleed after being attacked on duty issues plea: 'Don't take your anger out on us'

A police officer who was left with a bleed to the brain after being attacked on duty has spoken of the trauma inflicted on him and his family

Published

PC Leo Clarke needed brain surgery and spent almost a week in hospital after he was punched in the head last February.

He spent 10 months on sick leave, before returning to work on restricted duties.

Speaking on a Cambridgeshire Police podcast for the first time since the attack, the 25-year-old officer recalled his sense of helplessness after leaving hospital and “feeling like he was a burden to everyone".

The attack unfolded after he was called out to a house in Peterborough on 8 February last year.

PC Leo Clarke
PC Leo Clarke

He was sent to the property after a man became violent towards members of his own family.

The man, in his 20s, had missed a psychiatric appointment in hospital that morning.

He reacted angrily when PC Clarke activated his body worn video camera – and soon after grabbed and punched the officer to the head.

After calling for backup from fellow officers, the man was arrested and later handed a prison term for causing grievous bodily harm (GBH).

The young officer said he realised something was wrong after he returned the police station.

PC Clarke said: “I went to get up out of the car, but then thought something really isn’t right.

“I walked up the stairs to the response office and remember having to hold on to the handrail thinking: ‘This isn’t good, it wasn’t just a punch.'

“I went into the office and my skipper’s look alone worried me. I spoke in gibberish apparently, and it was at that point they realised I needed to go to hospital.”

PC Leo Clarke's injury
PC Leo Clarke's injury

PC Clarke said he does not remember much else about the incident, other than doctors in the hospital cutting off his clothing.

He underwent immediate surgery to tackle a bleed to his brain.

In the podcast, the police constable said: “When I was released from hospital, they took the bandaging off my head and this was the first time I saw the extent of the surgery. The photos still hit home when I see them.

“My dad and girlfriend picked me up, I think he was crying more than she was! It was a long process of getting back to normal, but I got lucky and recovered in quite a short period of time.

“The doctors told me it was a bleed on the brain and left unchecked, it could cause a lot of damage. Luckily my skipper and colleagues saw something was wrong and got me to hospital early, that has helped me get back to how I am now.”

The police officer, based in Peterborough for nearly three years, said: “As the police we do a lot of jobs now, including mental health related ones. We’ve had to adapt as every service is stretched; for us it’s not just locking up bad guys anymore.

“One of the main things for police is life and limb – making sure everyone is OK. If we turn up, it doesn’t always mean you’re in trouble so don’t instantly worry and don’t take your anger out on us.”

PC Clarke said: “We’ve got families as well we want to go home to, so it’s not fair. It might not be an ambulance turning up like you want, but we will get to where you need to and do our best to help you.”

PC Leo Clarke’s remarkable and sobering interview, along with excerpts of audio from the officer’s body camera, can be found on the Cambridgeshire Police Podcast here on force’s dedicated podcast web page.