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Sussex officers under investigation over use of force in care home

Two officers are under investigation for gross misconduct after the death of a Sussex man who had dementia.

The standards watchdog has been called in to review the use of force by two officers at a care home against an elderly disabled man.

Sussex Police said it had made the referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) last month after the man was taken to hospital where he later died.

Officers were called to the care home where a 93-year-old man with dementia had a knife and was threatening staff.

On arrival, police were shown by care home staff into a room where the man, who was in a wheelchair and had one leg, was holding a knife.

Officers briefly engaged with the man, with one of the officers using PAVA spray, followed by a baton. The second officer deployed a Taser before the knife was removed from the man and he was handcuffed.

The man was taken to hospital following the incident for medical treatment. He remained in hospital where, sadly, he died three weeks later. 

The IOPC said its investigators attended the post-mortem and are awaiting further results as the cause of death is not known.

Gross misconduct notices have now been served on the two officers involved, both police constables, along with letters advising them they are under criminal investigation for manslaughter.

The IOPC made clear it did not mean disciplinary proceedings or criminal charges will follow.

IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said “I want to express my sympathies to the man’s relatives and those who knew him. We have advised his next-of-kin of our independent investigation and explained the steps we will be taking.

“This will include investigating whether the force used by the two officers against this male, was reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the circumstances and in line with local and national policies, procedures and guidance.”

Sussex Police confirmed it is supporting the investigation.

Assistant Chief Constable Tanya Jones said: “We want to express our sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Burgess. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

“We are providing every assistance to the IOPC to allow for a thorough investigation and for the family to receive the answers they need.”

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