A Lincolnshire Police officer who starred in Channel Five’s Police Interceptors has faced accusations of homophobia and excessive use of force in the first police misconduct hearing held in public in the county’s history.
PC James Woolerton has been accused of gross misconduct relating to his actions following the arrest of Keith Saunders after a high-speed car chase through Lincoln city centre last July.
Two breaches have been brought against the officer, the first relating to him allegedly striking the arrested man in the face after he had been detained.
The second breach relates to an alleged homophobic slur directed at the driver, followed by two “knee strikes” to his legs.
The hearing at Lincolnshire Police HQ in Nettleham heard that police officers pursued the motorist through the countryside and into Lincoln at speeds often in excess of 100mph at just after 2am on July 6, 2014.
Following a 20-minute car chase, the driver turned left off Outer Circle Road onto Nettleham Road before pulling over.
He was immediately tackled to the floor by two officers, one of whom drew and red-spotted a taser at the suspect.
CCTV played at the hearing shows officers restraining the driver, pinning him to the floor and handcuffing him.
It is alleged by the motorist that PC Woolerton then punched him two or three times to the nose and face.
The panel heard that the 26-year-old driver remonstrated with officers, repeatedly asking them who had punched him.
He was pushed onto the bonnet of a vehicle which is when PC Woolerton is alleged to have made the abusive comment and kneed the driver in the legs.
A fellow police officer who was at the scene has stated in the hearing that he was “certain” that PC Woolerton made the homophobic comment.
Conflicting reports have been given over how compliant the driver was after he was arrested.
He was also found to be over the legal alcohol limit and has since been convicted for his actions on the night.
New Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May in March of this year have opened up police misconduct hearings to the press and public for the first time.
This hearing is the second to be held under the new rules, and the first in which members of the public and media have attended, following a case in Greater Manchester last week.
A panel, chaired by Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Peter Davies, will decide on whether PC Woolerton used unnecessary force on the driver in handcuffs and was abusive in a homophobic way towards a member of the public.
Punishments vary from a written warning to dismissal if the officer is found guilty of the breaches. The hearing is not a criminal investigation.
PC Woolerton has denied both charges. The hearing continues tomorrow.