Police are the people we entrust with our lives, to protect us, arrest those who threaten us, and keep criminals off the streets. However, police officers are still people at the end of the day and while their job is all caring for the public, sometimes things do go completely to plan. Just as anyone else though, police officers have to pay the price, as one officer found when he violently smashed a man’s windscreen after mistaking him for a drug dealer and was found guilt of gross misconduct.
Joshua Savage was caught on a mobile phone attacking Leon Fontana’s Ford Fiesta with a baton before sawing through the glass with a lock knife. The footage has since gone viral. The attending police had first thought that Mr Fontana was a potentially violent drug dealer called TJ Dixon, a well known criminal in the area.
This case of mistaken identity went too far though, especially when Mr Fontana tried to convince the officers he wasn’t a criminal. The video was filmed by Mr Fontana himself, where he can be heard telling the officers that he has a license and insurance, he isn’t who they think he is. This fell on deaf ears though and as Savage attacked the car with a baton, and then a knife, shards of glass went flying everywhere. During the attack, Mr Fontana sustained injuries, which included a shard of glass in his eye. The glass had to be removed later by a doctor, and his windshield also suffered which cost him £175 to replace.
The incident, which happened in Camden, northwest London in September 2016, has been formally investigated and Mr Savage was later acquitted at a criminal trial in July last year after being charged with assault by beating and damaging property. Furthermore, he was cleared of possession of a bladed article for having the lock knife, which is not issued to officers as part of their kit. In fact, carrying a locking blade in a public place without good reason is an offence in England. So, not only was Savage carrying additional weapons which were not cleared with the force, he was also committing an offence as a citizen.
However, when questioned about carrying the bladed article, Savage claimed it was common practice for Metropolitan Police officers to carry knives on duty, and said he had acted lawfully and proportionally when the driver refused to get out of his car. Despite his excuses, a police misconduct panel eventually decided that he had actually breached standards by forcefully smashing the window without warning and unnecessarily. The panel also decided that officer Savage had lost control and was carrying the knife without any prior permission.
Mr Savage has since quite the police force altogether, on his own accord. Therefore, he will not be facing any disciplinary action. It’s disappointing that police are acting this way and are simply getting away with it by quitting their jobs. Many people would rather Mr Savage face legal action either as a police officer or as a private citizen, no matter if he quit his job or not. Mr Fontana deserves some sort of compensation to help pay for the damages to his car, and himself.