Devon and Cornwall police officers acquitted of assault charges

Bristol Magistrates Court Credit: PA

Two police officers have been cleared of assault following the arrest of a man in Exeter.

PCs Emmit Wookey, 28, and Liam Dunn, 30, who both serve with Devon and Cornwall Police, denied the counts at a trial at Bristol Magistrates' Court.

The court was shown the aftermath of a stabbing in the early hours of 19 March last year in Exeter city centre.

Their body worn video cameras showed a man who had been in a fight say the knifeman attacker had 'blonde' hair.

Yet, when they rounded the corner of the road, in pursuit of a suspect, they came across Neil Omari-Cole, who is black and has black hair.

The footage showed the PCs and a third officer surround Mr Omari-Cole, and tell him to get to his knees, which he initially failed to do.

He then knelt, and PC Wookey was seen to kick Mr Omari-Cole to the ground, where he was handcuffed.

PC Wookey later said he didn't hear the description of the offender. He described it as a "dynamic and fluid" situation.

He said he knew Mr Omari-Cole well and knew he had a long criminal history which included possession of a knife, possession of a firearm and assaulting a police officer.

When searched, Mr Omari-Cole was found to be unarmed. He accused the officers of racism and made the formal complaint.

Each officer faced a single charge of assault by beating and were cleared.

Acquitting the men after a three-day trial, the District Judge told them he accepted their actions were in accordance with their duties as police officers, that they were both of good character and the burden of proof by the prosecution had not been met.

The case was investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (OIPC.)

IOPC regional director David Ford said: “At the end of our investigation in September last year we referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided to bring the charges of common assault.

"It was appropriate for the evidence from our investigation of force used against the man to be tested in court. The district judge has now found the two police officers not guilty.”

The IOPC will now liaise with Devon and Cornwall Police about any potential misconduct hearings.