A police officer who sawed and smashed his way through a suspect’s windscreen with a knife committed gross misconduct, an investigation has found, despite being acquitted at a criminal trial.
Footage of Joshua Savage attacking Leon Fontana’s Ford Fiesta with a baton before cutting the glass with a lock knife went viral after Mr Fontana posted it on social media.
Officers had mistakenly thought Mr Fontana was a potentially violent drug dealer called TJ Dixon.
The incident left Mr Fontana with a shard of glass in his eye that had to be removed by a doctor, and he was forced to pay £175 to have his windscreen repaired.
The incident, which took place on September 16 2016 in Camden, north-west London, provoked a public outcry.
The police officer said he acted lawfully and proportionately when Mr Fontana refused to step out of his vehicle, and that it was common practice for Metropolitan Police officers to carry knives on duty.
Mr Savage was cleared of one count of assault by beating and one count of damaging property at Southwark Crown Court in July last year.
He was also cleared of possession of a bladed article for having the multi-tool, which is not a police-issued piece of kit.
But at a police misconduct panel which concluded on Friday, it was found he breached standards relating to his use of force in smashing the window without warning.
The panel also found Mr Savage to have lost his self-control and to have been carrying the multi-tool without permission – thereby breaching orders.
Sal Naseem, the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) director for London, said: “The police misconduct panel has ruled that PC Savage’s actions amounted to gross misconduct.
“From the evidence available, including footage taken by the driver, we were of the opinion that the actions of PC Savage should be tested at a disciplinary hearing and it is disappointing that we had to use our powers to direct the Metropolitan Police to hold this hearing.
“Public confidence in policing requires transparency and accountability.”
Mr Naseem added the IOPC were concerned about Mr Savage’s claim in his defence that Met officers routinely carry multi-tools, despite them being against regulation.
“If true, this would be matter for public concern. We raised the matter with the force during our investigation and we await its assurance that it has taken action to ensure this is not the case,” he said.
Mr Savage escaped sanction by the independent panel as he resigned from the force ahead of the hearing.