Police officer found guilty of assaulting woman over wrongful bus fare arrest

PC Perry Lathwood has been found guilty of assault. Credit: PA

A Metropolitan Police officer has been found guilty of assault after he wrongfully arrested a woman for bus fare evasion in front of her young son.

PC Perry Lathwood, 50, "manhandled" Jocelyn Agyemang during the arrest in Croydon in July last year, causing bruises.

Ms Agyemang and her son got off the bus at around 11am on July 21, 2023 and she was asked to show she had paid her fare by a bus inspector.

Deputy Senior District Judge Tan Ikran said it was "not necessary" for Lathwood to "grab the woman's arm, arrest her and handcuff her".

He added: "There were not reasonable grounds to suggest arrest was necessary.

"The officer made an error of judgment and over reacted."

Paul Jarvis, prosecuting told the trial Lathwood put a hand on Ms Agyemang, but she moved away, so he then grabbed her arm and arrested her for fare evasion.

The incident was filmed by a crowd that had gathered, with those filming asking Lathwood why he had arrested her.

Mr Jarvis said Lathwood continued to hold her, demanding she tap her card. He also handcuffed her.

Another officer took her Oyster card from her hand and went away with it to see if she had paid. It was confirmed that Ms Agyemang had paid her fare and she was de-arrested at the scene.

Ms Agyemang said she felt “very violated” by the incident.

“I just felt like they did not care,” she said. “I just felt a bit degraded because I had not done anything wrong.”

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What have the police said?

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the verdict presented a “huge setback to our ability to rebuild trust with Londoners”.

He continued: “We will learn the lessons from this and we apologise to the woman and the wider community who were deeply affected.

“Anyone who has seen the footage of this incident will be upset by how it escalated into a traumatic situation for a mother and her child.

“Since this incident happened, we have stopped our involvement in supporting Transport for London fare evasion operations, but we continue our presence on the bus network tackling violent crime.”

Scotland Yard said it did not intend to consider an accelerated misconduct hearing for the officer.

Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) regional director Mel Palmer said: “Any use of force by officers should be reasonable, proportionate and justifiable in the circumstances.

“This was a high-profile incident that caused significant concern, particularly in the Croydon community, after footage of the incident was published online.

“We carried out an independent and impartial investigation to establish the facts surrounding this incident, including the actions of the police officers involved.

“The decision to refer a file of evidence to the CPS to consider criminal charges is not something we take lightly and this was done after careful consideration of the evidence, including liaison with the CPS.”

The police watchdog said it will now liaise with the force to progress disciplinary proceedings for the officer.

Lathwood will be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday June 14.

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