West Yorkshire Police officer heard saying he would ‘choke’ man cleared of misconduct

19 Nov 2021 03:58 PM

A West Yorkshire Police officer has been cleared of misconduct at a disciplinary hearing, which followed an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into his actions during the arrest of a man in Halifax.

We independently investigated a complaint from the man, which was voluntarily referred by the force, regarding the actions of the arresting officer, PC Graham Kanes.

Footage of the incident, on 16 August 2020, was widely shared on social media and showed the officer telling the complainant to “chill out or I’ll choke you out”. 

During our investigation, we reviewed mobile phone, CCTV and body-worn video footage of the incident; obtained statements from witnesses; and interviewed the officer.

We established that PC Kanes attended a disturbance at Spring Hall Gardens, Halifax, involving several people. While he was dealing with the situation, the complainant arrived and was subsequently arrested for assault by PC Kanes.

Mobile phone footage of the incident appeared to show the officer with his arm around the man’s neck. A misconduct hearing this week heard evidence that this was the result of an approved police technique known as a ‘seatbelt take-down’ and not a choke hold.

We concluded our investigation in January 2021 and found that PC Kanes had a case to answer for gross misconduct in respect of the use of force during the arrest, his use of threatening language, and for providing an inaccurate statement.

We directed the force to hold a misconduct hearing, which began on Monday (15 November). The panel recently (19 November 2021) found the case against PC Kanes was not proven.

IOPC Regional Director Miranda Biddle recently said:

“Incidents like this one can have damaging consequences for public confidence in the police and it is vital they are thoroughly investigated and reviewed independently.

“While we found PC Kanes’ behaviour may have amounted to a breach of the professional standards of behaviour, it is ultimately for the police misconduct panel, having considered all of the evidence, to reach a conclusion based on the evidence available. He admitted the words he used during the incident were not ideal and the panel accepted his explanation that he was doing his best to control a challenging situation. 

“We are aware that this incident caused significant concern for our local communities. At the conclusion of these matters, we would like to provide assurance to the community that PC Kane’s actions have been independently reviewed by the panel and deemed not to warrant any further disciplinary action. We are grateful to the panel for their consideration.”