Police officer regrets ‘chill out or I’ll choke you out’ comments during arrest, misconduct probe told

Police 'Do not cross' tape
Police 'Do not cross' tape

Pc Graham Kanes made the comments as he arrested Hassan Ahmed in Halifax in August 2020 in an incident which was captured on video, the hearing in Wakefield heard on Monday.

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A police officer regrets saying “chill out or I’ll choke you out” and “chill out or you’re going to sleep” as he restrained a man with a neck hold during an arrest, a misconduct hearing has been told.

Pc Graham Kanes made the comments as he arrested Hassan Ahmed in Halifax in August 2020 in an incident which was captured on video, the hearing in Wakefield heard on Monday.

In the footage shown to the panel, Mr Ahmed is heard to respond by saying: “I can’t breathe,” and: “I give up, I give up.”

Opening the case against the West Yorkshire Police officer, George Thomas said of Pc Kanes: “He accepts the language he used may have been insensitive and he regrets using it. But he understands he can say anything in order to gain control and that is what he did.”

He said: “He denies the allegations in their entirety.”

The panel was shown footage from a number of sources, including mobile phone shots posted on social media which have not been traced.

It was also shown bodyworn camera footage from another officer, Pc Andy Bell, who arrived as Pc Kanes and Mr Ahmed were on the floor.

After Mr Ahmed is put into a police car, the bodyworn camera footage, captures a bystander confronting Pc Kanes about what happened, saying: “Haven’t you seen what happened in America?”

The incident happened about three months after the death of George Floyd in the United States, which attracted worldwide media attention.

The bodyworn camera footage also captured Mr Ahmed shouting at Pc Bell as he was being transported to the police station in a van.

During the journey, Mr Ahmed says: “He had me in a choke.”

He said: “You know what happened to that black lad in America who died?”

And he said: “He was strangling me and I could not f****** breathe.”

Mr Ahmed angrily protests that he was being compliant and suggests that, if he wanted to resist arrest, he would have had no problems fighting off the officers as he trains regularly.

He said: “In the f****** car park, fist-on-fist, gypsy style.”

in the footage Mr Ahmed denies punching Pc Kanes, saying: “I slapped him”.

Earlier in the incident, Pc Bell’s bodyworn camera recorded Pc Kanes saying: “He lunged himself at me and, as he’s lunged at me, he’s caught me in the face with his fist.”

In the police station, Mr Ahmed is recorded saying: “Another 10 seconds and I could’ve been out.”

Mr Thomas said it was not disputed that the arrest of Mr Ahmed was lawful, as the officer had witnessed Mr Ahmed punching another man as he arrived at Spring Hall Gardens, in Halifax, on August 16.

Pc Kanes was originally called to the street following reports of group of girls banging on a door and making threats.

Mr Thomas said there was no allegation that race was factor in Pc Kanes’s treatment of Mr Ahmed.

The officer denies using excessive force while restraining Mr Ahmed, “including a choke and a punch”.

And he denies that a statement the officer provided describing how he was punched by Mr Ahmed “was not an accurate or truthful account of what had happened”.

Pc Kanes is alleged to have breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour in respect of authority, respect and courtesy; use of force; duties and responsibilities; discreditable conduct; and honesty and integrity.

The misconduct hearing is expected to last five days.

Mr Thomas said that choke holds were the only form of restraint explicitly discouraged during police training due to the potentially fatal risks involved.

He said that it was accepted this was a chaotic situation and Pc Kanes was dealing with an uncooperative, large and muscular man.

The barrister said the officer’s use of language showed that he was deliberately using a choke hold.

He said: “He was deliberately applying pressure to Mr Ahmed’s neck and he was deliberately preventing him from breathing.”

He added: “He was using the one technique he is trained not to use, even for a person violently resisting the police.”

Mr Thomas said the use of the neck hold was “potentially lethal” and “plainly excessive”.

He said: “It was an utterly inappropriate and dangerous use of force and abuse of authority.”

Mr Thomas said the “completely indefensible” language Pc Kanes used was “likely to cause a degree of terror to someone who was, at the time, having pressure applied for their neck”.