1. ITV Report

Police investigating after officer punches man in face

A police force are investigating after footage of an officer punching a man in the face was published on social media.

Avon and Somerset Police have now released their own bodycam footage of the incident in Yeovil.

The officer can be heard to say "let go of my arm", before giving the man a countdown.

  • Warning. Potentially distressing images.

Avon and Somerset Police say they were called shortly before 5pm yesterday (May 31) to a man acting aggressively towards their staff.

They added the man appeared to be in mental health crisis and officers took the decision to detain him under the Mental Health Act.

This decision is always taken to safeguard the individual from harming themselves and others.

While we always act in the best interests of the person in crisis, there is sometimes a need for restrain to protect the person, our officers and members of the public.

– Avon and Somerset Police
A still from the bodycam footage released by Avon and Somerset Police. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

The actions of the police officer have been widely condemned on social media.

One onlooker, who filmed the incident on his mobile phone, said he stopped to see what was going on.

We were just walking by when we saw this guy being detained under the Mental Health Act - he wasn't being arrested.

I think what that officer did was totally unjustified.

– Luke Harris
A still from footage captured by Luke Harris. Credit: Luke Harris

Avon and Somerset's Professional Standards Department are now looking into the matter.

The public rightly expects police officers to use force reasonably so we welcome their scrutiny.

Our Professional Standards Department will now make their own enquiries into this matter.

– Avon and Somerset Police

A former Metropolitan Police officer told ITV News:

Police officers are having to deal with a huge increase in calls to individuals with mental health issues. Police training has increased and improved but they are not mental health professionals. Often the subject of the call is violent and there is no 'magic bullet' to deal with that individual. We don't know as yet what led up to police being called however clearly the ambulance crew must have been facing a difficult situation. Use of force has to be justified. The enquiry by the A&S Professional Standards Department will investigate whether that use of force was proportionate.

– Chris Hobbs