The Sussex Police Federation has issued a statement following the conclusion of a gross misconduct hearing after a police officer was involved in a collision with an elderly pensioner.
PC Harris was responding to a call in Brighton in August 2017 when the car he was driving collided with 79-year-old pedestrian David Ormesher who later died.
Mr Harris has reportedly denied claim made against him of gross misconduct at a hearing in Lewes yesterday. As the hearing concluded today, clearing PC Harris (Thursday, July 16) the chairman of Sussex Police Federation, Matt Webb, issued a statement on the treatment the Brighton police officer.
Mr Webb said: "Sussex Police Federation notes the findings today in the hearing against PC Richard Harris. Our thoughts remain with the family of David Ormesher, who sadly lost his life as a result of the tragic accident in August 2017.
“The stated outcome at this hearing means our colleague PC Harris can now finally get on with his career, having been investigated over this incident for the past three years. It’s no exaggeration to say that this ordeal has had a significant impact on him.
“Police officers have no issue with being held accountable for their actions – we are the most accountable of public services. And it is only right that following a tragic death the circumstances are fully examined.
“But how can it be just or justified to have a police officer’s life put on hold for so long? This should never have been looked at as potential Gross Misconduct – why was it treated as such? Sussex Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct need to be asking that question today.”
He added: “At this hearing, PC Samantha Cooper, who was a passenger in the police car that night, said PC Harris had been treated 'appallingly' throughout the criminal and subsequent disciplinary investigations and labelled his treatment 'disgusting'. We fully concur.
“The Police Federation has consistently been arguing for the need for time limits on such investigations. The negative impact of this prolonged uncertainty on a police officer, their families and their colleagues cannot be underestimated.
“As a society, we must give police officers the support required when they carry out these roles, even if the worst sadly happens.
“We must pay credit to our colleague PC Harris for maintaining his professionalism and dignity throughout the extremely stressful process. We also thank his legal team for their hard work.”
Brighton & Hove Independent