A police officer accused of assaulting a man after a traffic stop told his trial he feared the driver was about to stand up and may have pushed him into the road.
Pc Charlie Thompson, of Essex Police, went to help his colleagues after they stopped a Volkswagen Golf driver on suspicion of using a mobile phone behind the wheel on January 19.
There was a scuffle before the motorist, Zeki Badruddin, was handcuffed on the verge beside the A127 in Basildon and arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker, Colchester Magistrates’ Court was told, with police using Pava spray.
Mr Badruddin was not prosecuted.
Thompson, 25, said he was on his own in a police vehicle when a second police car, behind him, made a traffic stop and he carried on driving.
“I’m attuned to that noise.”
He said he heard the noise and his colleagues did not respond to a message on the radio, which “rings alarm bells”, so he drove back to the scene of the stop.
He said when he arrived his colleagues appeared “shell-shocked” and his “main concern was the A127 – it’s a fast road”.
“I formed the opinion we’re too close to the road and there was absolutely nothing stopping him (Mr Badruddin) getting up if he wanted to,” Thompson said.
The defendant said he “decided to take control” of the situation and knelt down next to Mr Badruddin, whose “legs were not restrained at all”.
“He was more than capable of getting up,” Thompson said.
“He was a very large man and could easily overpower me if he wanted to.”
The officer said Mr Badruddin “started flaring up again” and “made a very sharp turn to the left with his head”.
“I felt the tension in his body. I felt he was about to get up,” Thompson said.
“I was scared.
“I thought, ‘He’s going to assault me. He’s going to push me in the road. He’s going to headbutt me’.
“He’s an absolute mountain of a man.
“I had to ensure I didn’t allow him to get up.”
He said he managed to get Mr Badruddin to the ground, using his arm and “body weight to successfully do so”.
He said he placed his knee on Mr Badruddin’s head for “no more than two seconds” while he was on the ground, adding: “As soon as he stopped resisting, my knee came off and my hands went back on.”
Thompson said leg restraints were applied to Mr Badruddin.
He said he went to sit Mr Badruddin up to “go through the de-escalation process again”, when Mr Badruddin said: “Roll me off to the side, mate.”
Thompson said he took this to mean Mr Badruddin wanted to go back on the ground and he put him back on the ground.
Mr McGee said Thompson received a commendation for saving a man’s life in 2021.
Prosecutor Micaila Williams said “by the time the defendant arrived, the incident appeared to have de-escalated” and there was no need for the officer to place a hand on Mr Badruddin.
She suggested Thompson “went in like a bull in a china shop”, to which the officer responded: “I disagree.”
Mr Badruddin told the court he chipped a tooth during the alleged assault.
He said: “There was no reason for anyone to be coming near me.
“I was sitting down. I couldn’t move. I wasn’t being aggressive to anyone.”
After the incident was flagged, Thompson was put on restricted duties and a mandatory referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, Essex Police said.
Thompson, of Dedham Road, Boxted, denies one count of assault by beating.
The trial was adjourned part-heard until Monday, November 28 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court for closing speeches to be heard, with the defendant granted bail until then.