PC Joshua Savage cleared of all charges after smashing car windscreen in Queen’s Crescent
The officer had been accused of losing his temper and using unreasonable force
27 July, 2018 — By William McLennan
A police officer accused of “losing it” with a driver and smashing open a car windscreen has been cleared of assault.
PC Joshua Savage was put on trial at Southwark Crown Court after footage of the incident was shared widely online.
The jury were repeatedly played the clip, recorded by the occupant of the car, which showed PC Savage break the windscreen with his baton, before using the blade of a multi-tool to saw through the shattered glass.
He was cleared this afternoon of assault, destroying property and possession of a bladed article after a four-day trial.
The incident was investigated by the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC), who referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service, who charged PC Savage in March 2017.
IOPC Regional Director Jonathan Green said: “The footage captured by the victim on their mobile phone and widely shared in the media, is shocking and it was important that PC Savage was held to account for his actions.
“Our investigation gathered evidence that suggested a criminal offence may have been committed by the officer. A trial has now been held and PC Savage has been cleared of all four charges.
“Our investigation found that a misconduct hearing could decide PC Savage’s actions amount to gross misconduct. The Metropolitan Police did not agree and so we have directed that a misconduct hearing be held to consider the evidence.
“We will be in contact with the Metropolitan Police Service to ensure that the hearing is held as soon as possible.”
The court had heard that PC Savage and his colleague had mistakenly identified the driver, Leon Fontana, as another young man who was said to be “well known to police” and allegedly had a reputation for violence.
The footage, filmed by Mr Fontana, shows him repeatedly pleading with officers that they have got the wrong man.
Mr Fontana told the court that he felt “very threatened” and “very frightened” as PC Savage struck his car on September 16, 2016.
“I definitely wasn’t leaving my car,” he said. “I thought if I left that car I would have been in danger, certainly.”
Mr Polnay told the jury: “You might think it is not unfair to say that [PC Savage] comes across in that clip as a bully in uniform.”
In a witness statement, written at the time, PC Savage said he had been using “pre-emptive force” because he feared the vehicle may contain drugs or other offensive weapons that may be used against himself or his colleagues.
Kevin Baumber, representing PC Savage, said that Queen’s Crescent was “an area that is troubled with gang crime”.
He asked Mr Fontana if he knew that his friend was a “high-ranking gang member” that “posed a considerable risk to police.”
Mr Fontana responded: “I wasn’t aware of that.
“I keep myself to myself. We would meet up to play football, sports.”