Avon and Somerset Police officer said George Floyd 'deserved to die', panel told

PC Daniel Wheller allegedly made a series of offensive comments about black people. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

An Avon and Somerset Police officer told a woman that George Floyd deserved to die “because he was a criminal”, a misconduct panel heard this week.

PC Daniel Wheller allegedly made a series of offensive comments - including that it was about time black people got over slavery, because "it happened ages ago".

The officer was based in Chard when the constabulary’s professional standards opened an investigation and later moved to Bridgwater police station, before resigning last December.

He is accused of breaching standards of professional behaviour amounting to gross misconduct, which he denies.

The officer, who became a police constable degree apprenticeship officer in 2019, having been a police community support officer since 2003, is also accused of cheating during his coursework at the University of the West of England in Frenchay by getting significant help from another person.

Miss A - who cannot be named for legal reasons - told day one of the police misconduct hearing on Monday 21 August: “He used to tell me that if I wanted to join the police then I would be let in without doing any tests and I would be a poster girl because of the colour of my skin.”

Asked what the officer said about George Floyd, who died as a result of police brutality in Minneapolis in 2020, Miss A told the hearing: “He said he was dead because he was a criminal.

There were protests across the world after George Floyd's death in 2020 Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

“When I was trying to discuss George Floyd and slavery in America, he shouted at me and said ‘slavery happened ages ago and it’s about time you blacks get over it’. “I was thinking ‘how could you possibly say this?’.”

She said he told her that young black men stopped in the street by police were “always playing the race card”.

“He was just vile. He made me fear the badge. It’s not just that he doesn’t have an understanding, he just doesn’t care.”

She said he told her that a diversity and inclusion group that supported black officers “should not be allowed and he was going to start a group just for white police officers”.

A tearful Miss A said he had left her questioning her racial identity. “I feel hurt, I feel embarrassed, I look around everywhere and notice I’m completely different to most people,” she told the panel.

Miss A said the force found out about his comments when her friend sent an anonymous letter to the chief constable.

Barrister Charles Apthorp, representing the force, said the officer received significant help to submit his UWE coursework from a woman, who also cannot be named for legal reasons.

Mr Apthorp said: “He was having work done for him by Miss F. That was basically cheating, it’s dishonest. Plagiarism is a serious matter.”

He said PC Wheller’s defence was that it looked like the woman was completing the work for him because changes to documents were made on her laptop but that it was actually him using his own computer and hers because he needed two screens at the same time.

Mr Apthorp said this explanation was “inherently unlikely” because the wording of emails to him from Miss F about the coursework were clearly written and signed by her.

He said PC Wheller also could not have used her laptop in the way he claimed because he had dyslexia and her computer did not have the software he needed.

The officer, who did not attend the remote hearing, denies the racism allegations. He accepts misconduct but not gross misconduct on the plagiarism allegations.

It is alleged that former PC Wheller breached the standards of professional behaviour for police officers, specifically the standards of: honesty and integrity; orders and instructions; authority, respect and courtesy; equality and diversity; and discreditable conduct.

The case resumes on Wednesday 23 August.

Credit: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter.