An 'old school' police officer, whose violent tussle with a 11-year-old boy led to a head injury for the child, has been cleared of gross misconduct, after a ruling found the use of force was 'reasonable'.

The police misconduct panel ruled PC Stuart Pearson's attempts to deal with an unruly schoolboy on the Isle of Wight were justified, due to the boy's behaviour.

The hearing was told the 48-year-old officer shouted at the boy, grabbed his arm and wrestled with him.

It resulted in the child, who was labelled 'naughty', smacking his head against the wall, which left a dent.

PC Pearson had been accused of acting 'totally out of proportion' and was accused of fuelling the boy's 'hatred' towards the police.

Giving evidence, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary officer of almost 20 years said his use of force was a 'tactic' he deployed.

Today (Wednesday), the misconduct hearing, held in Eastleigh, Hampshire, cleared PC Pearson of gross misconduct.

Chair of the panel, Marcus Joyce, said the 'unpleasant' schoolboy's behaviour was so bad PC Pearson's use of force was 'unavoidable'.

However, PC Pearson was given a written warning by the panel, after admitting bending down and shouting at the boy amounted to misconduct, as it was a breach of a standards of professional behaviour offence.

The hearing opened on Monday, when it was heard that, in June 2022, PC Pearson and a junior colleague, PC Katie Rich, attended the boy's home to speak to him, after he hit two youngsters.

The boy's father was at home and was 'encouraging his son to listen and pay attention,' however the youth was 'rude' and 'obnoxious' towards the officers, the hearing was told.

PC Pearson asked the child, 'Why did you whack them?'

The boy replied, 'Why not?'

The hearing was told the youth sat on his phone and the constable, raising his voice, told him, "Excuse me, don't talk to me like that, boy. You don't start talking to me like that. Do you understand me?"

The situation 'escalated' after PC Pearson took hold of the boy's left wrist and he and PC Rich 'pulled' him up.

On Monday, barrister Alan Jenkins, representing Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, told the hearing: "The situation developed by PC Pearson grabbing the boy's arm and there was a short struggle in which the boy's head hit the wall, whereby he sustained some minor injuries.

"The boy's father was understandably angry and he demanded both officers leave the house, which they did."

Giving evidence, PC Pearson admitted bending down and shouting at the boy was a breach of conduct.

He told the hearing: "I was concerned he was going to assault me, from his general demeanour.

"I was dealing with the situation in accordance with my training.

"I was attempting to employ a communications tactic.

"In hindsight, I should have employed a different tactic."

When asked if he had lost his temper, PC Pearson responded saying 'no that's not true' and told the hearing: "I feared immediate unlawful violence away from him.

"He threatened to assault me so, at that time, we were verging on the decision of making an arrest.

"To reiterate, I didn’t lose my temper."

He added: "We're all human and we all make mistakes."

Today at the hearing, barrister Mr Joyce cleared PC Pearson of gross misconduct, ruling that aside from bending down and shouting at the boy, his other actions were justified.

He said: "It was [the boy] who did escalate the matter through his own behaviour."

Mr Joyce said the officer was acting in response to the 11-year-old, who could be seen to have his 'right arm raised with a clenched fist'.

He added: "His facial expression was one of real anger. Both eyes were fixed on PC Pearson."

The chair said both PC Pearson and PC Rich, pulling the schoolboy up resulting in him colliding with the wall, was due to 'an uncoordinated lack of control in a confined space'.

Describing the officer's response to the situation, he said: "It was reasonable in light of [the boy's] actions.

"[PC Pearson] had a reasonable fear he was going to be assaulted'.

"PC Pearson's use of force was in a large sense unavoidable, given [the boy's] actions."

Mr Joyce said he looked at the evidence in relation to the boy's 'young age and his relatively small stature' but said the boy showed a 'total disregard' to the officers.

He said: "There was a physical injury, albeit minor and it was accidental."

He added: "We conclude that PC Pearson was culpable of misconduct.

"For avoidance of doubt, he is not culpable of gross misconduct."

PC Pearson told the hearing: "I would like to say that I am sorry for my actions in relation to [the child].

"I have children myself and I would never dream of injuring my children accidentally.

"I have learned from the experience and I will use it to better assess situations in the future.

"This experience has been extremely difficult for me and my family.

"It has left a great strain on my home life and severely impacted my mental health.

"It will stay with me for the rest of my life."

  • Reporting by Solent News Agency