PC Joshua Savage behaved like ‘bully in a uniform’ when he smashed car windscreen in Queen’s Crescent
Footage shows officer "losing it" and smashing window with his baton
23 July, 2018 — By William McLennan
A police officer “lost it” when a driver refused to get out of his car and smashed open a window before using an illegal lock knife to cut through the shattered glass, a jury has heard.
Footage of PC Joshua Savage repeatedly striking the vehicle in Weedington Road, while shouting “get out the car”, was shown to a jury at Southwark Crown Court today.
Having played the mobile phone footage, recorded by Leon Fontana, who was sat alone in the car, prosecuting barrister Jonathan Polnay said: “You might think it is not unfair to say that [PC Savage] comes across in that clip as a bully in uniform.”
The court heard that PC Savage and his colleague had mistakenly identified 25-year-old Mr Fontana as another young man, who was a friend of Mr Fontana.
The court was told that Mr Fontana’s friend was “well known to local police” and allegedly had a reputation for violence.
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 said that even had the officers correctly identified the driver, PC Savage’s actions would still have been unlawful.
He said that while the officers did have powers to stop the vehicle, they had no right to force the driver to get out the car.
He said the suspected offence, of driving outside the terms of a provisional licence, was “not the most serious offence in the book,” adding: “It is an offence that does not give the police legal power to force entry to a vehicle to arrest some one.”
Mr Polnay said: “He has absolutely lost his temper. He has lost it.
“How on earth is this proportionate? Smashing someone’s windscreen in front of their face.”
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.”
PC Savage is accused of assault, possession of a lock knife and destroying property. He denies the charges.
The trial continues.