Police have launched an investigation after an officer was filmed hitting a member of the public from Eastbourne that he was trying to arrest in Newhaven.
Sussex Police says the man had become violent and had grabbed the officer outside Poundstretcher in Newhaven town centre on Friday night (December 16).
There have been calls for the officer involved to be suspended while an investigation by the force’s professional standards department is carried out.
Police say they were called by a member of the public concerned about a man slumped on the ground at 6.30pm.
Two PCSOs attended the scene and were verbally abused, say police, and called for back up. “A police officer joined them and they tried to get the man to leave the area and even offered to get him a taxi,” said a spokesperson.
“He then became violent and grabbed the officer.”
Chief Inspector Rosie Ross said: "We are aware of the video that has been posted of the man's arrest and while no formal complaint has been received, it has been referred to our professional standards department for review.
"In circumstances such as these, it is important that the risk of injury to the suspect, the public and the officers themselves is kept to the minimum and approved techniques may appear very robust.
"However, we will ensure that this incident is investigated to satisfy ourselves that the actions taken were appropriate."
A 40-year-old man from Eastbourne has been charged with being drunk and disorderly in a public place and assaulting a police officer,
Following the incident Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Lewes Kelly-Marie Blundell, called for a full investigation.
She said: “Footage taken with a mobile phone appears to show a man in distress being struck by an officer. This is very concerning.
“What we need is a full investigation into the events on the evening of December 16 in Newhaven, to get to the bottom of what actually happened.
“This brings into question the wider issue of continuing cuts to community policing, as well as changes to Police Community Support Officers, who no longer cover the same patch and therefore do not know their local communities.”
Speaking on Monday (December 19), Secretary of the Sussex Police Federation Mark White said: "During the weekend, footage emerged of a police officer 'punching' a man in Newhaven. A large number of people, especially on social media, have been quick to condemn the officer's actions without knowing the full facts, without knowing the circumstances of the arrest or without knowing the events which led up to the officer having to restrain the male.
"When police officers are attacked, it seems to come as a shock to some people that we are allowed to use force to protect both ourselves and the public.
"There are varying degrees of approved and permissible force which can be used by officers and some of these do involve the use of a fist if the circumstances require. In this incident, the officer was dealing with a violent man having been called to the scene to back up two PCSOs.
"The officer was then attacked and sought to defend himself and arrest the male using Home Office approved techniques.
I have spoken with the officer and assured him that he has the full support of Sussex Police Federation".
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