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Day 5 of the disciplinary hearing for PC Mark Alston, alleged to have used his baton in a violent, uncontrolled and dangerous manner when he used it to deliver a number of downward strikes at head height in a manner that was unreasoble in all the circumstances and risked causing
head injuries to protesters and striking Alfie Meadows with his baton and causing him a serious head injury. Alfie Meadows will be continuing to give evidence today. We adjourned yesterday mid examination by the defence barrister. Expected to begin in 15 minutes.
Alfie asked if he remembers how the officer in front of him hit the fence with the baton: Alfie remembers him hitting the fence with his baton and it going off to the officer's right. The fence was then behind him and the other officers.
Once the railing was moved to his right and behind him, the officer continued to swing his baton around. At that moment the baton was being swung from high to low in a violent manner. The baton was being raised above the officer's head. It was a continuous movement, the baton
was used to thrash about, moving the fence away and then raising it above his head and bringing it down towards Alfie's head.
Alfie is now being shown footage of the incident. Two officers on the video. One is an unidentified Met police officer, the other is PC Mark Alston. Defence barrister suggesting that it is the unidentified Met police officer who is in front of Alfie, not PC Mark Alston.
Alfie says he does not recall looking at an officer until the fencing was away from him. Defence suggesting that the Met police officer is in front of Alfie. Alfie considers that he isn't. Met police officer can be seen making low strikes on the footage.
Met police officer can also be seen with his baton in the air. PC Alston can be seen hitting the fence with his baton, as Alfie recalls. Defence suggesting the baton is caught in the fence rather than having been hit away with the baton, as Alfie recalls. Alfie insists that the
footage is as he described a week after the event. He's absolutely certain that the officer who hit him was the one thrashing around with the fence just before he struck him.
On the footage PC Alston's baton can be seen raised in the air, as can the unidentified Met police officer. Defence suggesting Alfie didn't see PC Alston's baton raise.
Alfie insists that the officer who hit him was the one who hit the fence before advancing towards him. Alfie saw the baton raised and spun around instinctively before being hit.
Alfie points to the moment in the footage where he sees himself being hit. His hand is on his head. Defence says this is his interpretation of footage. Defence insisting Alfie's right hand is his left hand. Alfie and the AA barrister insists that his right hand is his right hand
Met police officer's baton can be seen striking downwards but by this point Alfie says he has already been struck.
Defence has finished asking questions. There will be a short break now (10 mins) before the Chair decides whether the panel will also ask questions.
Alfie has completed giving his evidence now. One more witness: He was PS at the time - William Duffy, now Superintendent. Duffy was in charge of PC Alston's unit on 9 Dec 2010. He says in his statement that he used his shortshield to push protesters back. He was responsible for
6 officers, including Alston, as their immediate supervisor. He authorised entry of police officers into the crowd, a rare tactic. The tactic was to enter the crowd and to move them back. He made the order because of instructions from the Silver commander (Johnson). He used his
short shield to strike people. As he raised his shield, the protester ducked down, and he struck them in the face. He was aiming for the arm and thigh areas. He was trying to strike the arms of protesters holding onto fencing.
Asked what he would do ideally if he accidentally hit a person in the face, he said he would if he could check if the person is okay. He couldn't do that in the moment. What else would he do? He said he would write it in his log book, as he did. AA barrister asks would he write
this even if he knew someone might have complained about him. He says, yes. He would have written down what happened in his incident book and written his statement drawing on his log book later.
Defence now asking Duffy questions on behalf of PC Alston: being asked about police training, whether it recognises live situations. Duffy says yes, as best as it can. Defence asking whether you'd put in your notes the fact that you swung a baton and it missed. Duffy says yes.
Defence: does training outline hard and fast rules about how you can and can't use your baton? Yes it does, you have to identify an arm or thigh area to hit.
6pm was particularly noted in Duffy's logbook because it was very unusual for the Silver to have instructed officers to enter the crowd. He'd never heard it before and he's never heard it again since.
Chair now asking questions: did he see any officers using their batons in an overhead strike? He says no. Would it have been justifiable to use the baton in that way? He says yes if threat to life having considered alternatives.
AA barrister asks how he would strike his baton: he shows sideways strikes.
We are adjourning now until 2pm.
Back now after lunch. Defence is calling PC Alston to give evidence.
PC Alston giving evidence now. Became a police officer in 2006. Policing experience - was an authorised firearms officer in nuclear constabulary, then an armed response officer.
His statement dated 15th Dec about events on 9 Dec. Reason for gap he says is because he was on a period of rest days after the 9th. Did he have noted to help with statement? He says they were made on 9th. When? Whenever he had time. He'd been on duty since 7.30am
What did he know about previous protests: knew they'd been violent. Does not recall the content of the briefing. Doesn't remember because it was a long time ago.
Knew a Section 60 was put in place and that it's there to allow officers to search without suspicion.
Had heard there were incidents of people who had been seen with items that could cause injury. Was aware of anarchist groups on the protest.
Got his information via radios in vans or via supervising officers. Says there was a definite build in risk over the course of the day. Why did he wear his helmet? They were told to put them on. He assumed this was because items might be thrown.
Did he see things being thrown: yes. He wasn't wearing high vis jacket because they're not flame proof. He could tell that the mood was changing as it started to get darker. People were lighting fires and putting on face covers on. He was feeling anxious about what might happen
Some occasions where he could see groups moving inside a crowd. This caused him alarm.
He'd been policing crowds during the day and had been on a cordon during the day. Protesters were okay towards the crowd and then the crowd started to get worse in mood. Hard to describe. It's a gut feeling. It's like a sixth sense.
Does he remember how he received info about risk? He says it was a briefing from his supervison. Had he been informed about how protesters had reacted to being pushed back?
He had heard that horses had been put into the crowd. This is a high risk strategy to use, he says.
He was wearing a PSU overall, padding on legs, arms, was wearing body armour over the top, had a shield, paid of handcuffs, had a baton and was wearing a NATO helmet and wearing boots.
He's over 6 foot tall. His baton was attached to his belt. Why take baton out? He was instructed to take it out around 6pm. That's the first time he can remember taking it out. Did he draw it before push they were told to do? Yes.
When he tried to push protesters back what happened? When we moved into the crowd, using his shield and sweeping kicks, kicked protester in leg, and using shield to push people back.
The amount of missiles were coming down would be described as raining, never experienced anything like that at all. The amount of missiles was unbelievable.
He remembers fencing and being struck by it. Although he was wearing a helmet but it doesn't absorb much impact. It was a dire situation. It was really high risk. There was a concern that if your shield was taken you wouldn't have a defence. Worried about getting knocked down
Says he was hit by fencing on his head. Defence: in the footage you were under the fence not hit by it, was this a different time? Yes.
Alston being shown footage now.
Footage of baton use that Alston will be asked about has been shown. Alston can be seen using his baton, lifting it above his head and striking downwards several times.
Does he remember what hes seeing in the footage? A bit. Says he's trying to move beneath the fence. He says althout it looks like his baton is being pulled back he's not sure he's doing that.
He's being asked to explain each bit on the footage where he's using his baton to strike. Does he remember his baton getting stuck in fence? No. Are you hitting the fence? No. Can he say whether he did strikes apart from those on footage? No. Looking at second strike in 15 secs
of footage. Can see his arm goes up. Why was it that angle for his baton? Why up and and down not to side? The situation was really confined, dynamic crowd, it was the only thing I could do. It was a split second action.
Footage showing Alston from back hitting downward, suggestion is that is him hitting Alfie on head. He says he didn't see anyone in front of him turning around. Did he hit him? No. Do you know how far in front of him Alfie is? No.
Chair asks him: what did you hit with you baton? I didn't anyone. Where did your bafon go? It went downwards but I didn't strike anyone. He did hit someone at some point but not Alfie.
Defence: did he hit someone on head? No. If he had, what would he have done? He would have made a note in his log book. If he thought he'd done that he would have taken him out and given first aid.
Did he know someone had been injured? No. Did he have any reason to cover up having hit someone? No.
Footage of him striking towards someone with his shield. Asked what he's doing, he says he's striking someone with his baton. Shown footage of him striking downwards. Says he had limited space and so is bending down.
More footage of instance where Alston raises baton high above his head. Says he's tilted it a bit to replicate the side motion in the little space he's got. Was he using it in a wild, uncontrolled downward way? He disagrees with that.
AA barrister asking his questions first: Alston 28 at the time of incident. Had been in city of London police for about a month. Had been in Merseyside police for 4 years. At civil nuclear constabulary for a year before that. He had firearms training. He was a response officer
at Merseyside. Had further training there. Use of force refresher training every year. Had a baton at nuclear academy and mersyside and had training in using asp and Arnold. He had drawn his batons several times before but never used it. Training teaches sideways striking
and hitting of major muscle group areas in order to avoid serious injury and secondly it's effective. Alston agrees it can be effective. Alston knew what he was supposed to do and aware of what he wasn't allowed to do. Downward strikes unacceptable in most circs? He says
I wouldn't agree it's something we're not allowed to do even though we're not trained to do it.
Taught to apply circular risk assessment model. Assess, act, reasses? Yes. When he uses force only allowed to use reasonabke force? Yes. Has he used force before? Yes. He knows you're supposed to write down when you use it and justifying why? Us. He's done that before? Yes.
AA now showing Alston footage again: AA says the footage shows a strike from Alston as the fencing comes over the top of him. Alston says he doesn't remember striking. Baton isn't above his head. AA: you told us there was an immediate risk to your life in your statement? Yes.
AA: you said you were trying to rescue a level 2 unit. Where did this come from? Alston says he was told they shoud go and rescue another officer. AA: Why isn't this in your statement then? It seems like an important piece of information. Why wasn't it there?
Alston says: I thought it was in there.
AA: you said missiles were raining down, but they're not are they (plays footage again in which no missiles are visible). Maybe if you look carefully, you might be able to spot one. Can you remember any? Alston: I get your point there
aren't any in that footage. AA: they're not raining down are they as you just told us? I suggest you are exaggerating the situation. We can see you using your baton. You said you hit a protester wearing a white coat. When was that? Alston: maybe after this.
AA barrister: were you hitting the fence with your baton? I don't remember thrashing around with my baton. AA: we can see now the strike to Alfie. Was he of concern to you? Did you see him as a threat? Alston: No. Were you aware of him? No.
Footage shows Alston's arm raised and the side of Alfie's head. He's not looking at Alston. He's not a threat to you is he? Alston: I can't really help you. It's a blur. AA: he's not looking at you is he? Alston: can't help you. AA: look at your baton going higher and higher
it's pretty much full extension over your head. This is absolutely not how your taught to use your baton is it? Alston: it's not textbook, no but there are circumstances when you can. AA: yes as officer told us earlier if there is a gun to your head. Alston: didn't have much room
AA: it's not that restrictive is it. It didn't have to come up that high did it? It's right up in the air. Alston: this is the only way I could use it. AA: Meadows over here, side on to you. Look at this, baton right up in the air. Mr Meadows here with his back to you. Can see
your baton right up. You come down with your baton and you strike Mr Meadows don't you? Alston: no. AA: You don't remember this do you or it would be in your notebook? Alston: if I did hit someone I would have written it down. AA: Alfie's hands come up because you've just
whacked him on the head. You've gone forward as you've completed your strike. That was completely inappropriate use of a baton. It was dangerous. Alston: No. AA: you said you didn't hit him in your evidence. Is that your interpretation of footage? Alston: No.
AA: you hit him. You caused that serious injury. You didn't write it down. Then you carried on hitting people. Alston: No.
AA: look at what you're hitting. These people. They're not doing anything. They're just standing there. You're crashing your baton into them. You said you were trying to stop them getting a fence. There is no fence. There are people not even looking at you and your baton is
going into them for no reasonable reason. Alston: I can see because my visor is on and I can't hear properly. My visor is misted up.
AA: then the burden is on you to be careful. If you can't see or hear you don't swing your baton around wildly.
Alston: I disagree that I was.
AA: Look at what you're hitting into here. A young lady here. A young lady there. These are students aren't they. Young people. Students in their twenties. Your baton over your head going into them. They're not doing anything. At worst someone is pointing at you.
Alston: I felt
my life was at risk. AA: be reasonable. That is a lot of force you're using. Look at that again baton over your head. All the way down. Alston: I wasn't trying to generate force. AA: you are trained to use force as hard as possible. When you decide to use a baton, you will use as
much force as possible which may mean disabling someone onto the floor? AA: not necessarily to floor. AA: look baton up high over your head and down into the crowd. This is pretty indiscriminate isn't it. You're just lashing out into the crowd in front of you. Alston: No
AA: that's going to hit someone on the head isn't it? Alston:There's always a risk of something like that but it wasn't my intention. AA: in 6 seconds you use your baton 4 times in a fairly similar manner into a crowd of students. You don't pause and think about what you're
doing do you? Alston: disagree AA: you're just whacking students aren't you? Alston: No. AA: you said the reason you were doing this to rescue level two unit? After using your baton the next thing you do is just stand there isn't it? Alston: the crowd had moved back. AA: save for
fact that you told us you were trying to rescue level 2 unit. Alston: I don't know where they are. AA: you used your baton 4 times within 6 seconds into crowd of students. Then you just stand there. There was no risk to you was there? Alston: I disagree.
Back now after a short break. AA barrister to continue asking questions. AA: asking about notes Alston took. Did you make notes in IRB (notebook?) Then write statement from notes? Alston: Yes I assume so it was 9 years ago. AA: important points are in your statement Inc use of
force? Alston: yes. AA: your strikes aren't in your notebook or statement are they? Alston: yes they are. AA: where? Alston: the but where you say I hit Meadows I don't believe I hit anyone so it's not in there. AA: bit in statement you do refer to hitting male in white coat
in front of Alston and pushing fence towards him. He wrote he struck him on the thigh because he wouldn't let go. That's not what we just saw is it?Noone there is holding a fence. Alston: that's what I remember. AA: you say you struck male in white again on right upper arm and
said drop the fence. He didn't so you hit him again. Alston: yes. AA: the other baton strikes we saw on footage isn't in there. Alston: no. AA: use of the baton on leg and arm is serious and it's in here. You also used your baton to strike people at head height in a crowd but you
didn't put it in your statement. Alston: I didn't recall that. AA: I suggest it's because you can't justify it. Alston: I disagree. AA: you're hiding it aren't you. You knew it wasn't justified so you didn't put it in there. Alston: No. AA: you say you were genuinely fearful for
your life that why you used baton on white coat male on arms and legs. So even when you feared for your life, you struck him on the arm and legs. On other occasions when you were not fearful you struck people around the head. You struck Me Meadows and others in front of you
You say that footage shows you striking the same person three times but that footage doesn't show that. Alston: yes it does. AA: you're lying to us. Alston: it was 9 years ago. AA: I'm asking you what the video shows us. Your recollection is wrong. You're not striking one man.
You disagree with me on what we can see on the screen? Alston: sorry I don't know AA: are you telling us what you can see on the screen is that you're striking one man on the arms and leg three times. Alston: that's what I believe it shows.
AA: 1st Aug 2012 he was first shown the footage by IOPC but did not come forward to identify himself. Alston: No. AA: did you recognise yourself? Alston: No. AA: In 2014 you had been identified. You were interviewed. You prepared a statement before the interview. You are told
that you'd been identified and you made a statement with Fed friends and solicitor. Alston: Yes. AA: you said you assumed you were accused of assault or excessive force. You hadn't seen any new footage. You were confused what you were accused of. You were interviewed and shown
footage. Asked lots of questions. Didn't answer any of them. Why? Alston: legal advice he was given. AA: later on you had seen more footage and still didn't answer the allegation. After seeing footage he didn't provide further explanation or give any account of incident until
today. Today is your first ever time that you've explained what happend. Alston: Yes. AA: IOPC explained to him that you'd hit Meadows and he'd suffered serious brain injury. You knew it was a serious allegation. When you heard allegation, you must have been horrified. You must
have been keen to explain what happened. Alston: legal advice I was given AA: why not give an explanation after the interview in 2015/16. Alston: I was following legal advice I was given at the time. AA: you explain in your statement striking the male in white jacket on arms
You give all that explantion, you're then told about the allegation about striking Meadows on the head. You don't answer questions. No explanation until today. Why not? Chair intervenes to says he's answered question. AA: is it because you know it wasn't justified. Alston: No.
Chair: you said in your evidence that you felt anxious. Given how much protective clothing you're wearing why did you feel anxious? Alston: there were thousands of people in front of me. It was really scary. Chair: but not much was happening. Alston: but that level of anxiety
was starting to build. You can sense things were starting to escalate. It's an internal thing. Chair: why were you afriad of being taken into the crowd. What made you think you might be pulled in? Alston: it was a real possibility. Chair: how do you know you didn't hit anyone
with your baton? Alston: I don't remember making contact. Chair: What were you aiming for? Alston: I was trying to keep people back. Chair: were you doing it as a warning to stay away? Alston: yeah.
Other officer panel member: had you undertaken public order police training in this police force before deployment? Alston: No. AA: what level qualification was he at in public order training? Alston: level 2. We're you trained on consequences of deadly force? Alston: Yes.
Has done training with videogame style simulators and had been trained. How did he feel in period between baton use and when they stopped using batons? Alston: it's just a really scary horrible experience to have to be in. I can't describe it in words.
Chair: opportunity now for Mr Meadows to submit questions to consider asking Alston. 5 min adjournment now for panel to consider those.
5 questions to be put on behalf of Mr Meadows agreed by both legal teams. Did you hit anyone in any with any of those baton strikes in the footage? The three I described previously. Did you see yourself hitting man in white coat on footage? That's what I remember at the time.
Did you hit anyone with any of the baton strikes? I did say I hit someone previously. You said your baton strike was justified because a protester wouldn't let go of a fence. Would it have been justified if the protester holding the fence had his back to you?
I don't believe the baton strikes were overhead. Did you and your colleagues know a protester had been hit on the head when you made your first statement? I wasn't aware.
Alston has finished giving evidence now. Tomorrow the legal advocates make their closing statements. Starting tomorrow at 12.
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