An investigation is underway by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into the use of force by two Sussex Police officers on an elderly disabled man in a care home.
We have established that on the afternoon of Tuesday 21 June, police officers were called to the care home in St Leonards-on-Sea following a report that an elderly male resident with dementia had a knife and was threatening staff.
When police arrived, care home staff led them into a room where a man in a wheelchair with one leg was holding a knife. Officers engaged the man briefly, with one of them using PAVA spray, followed by a baton. The second officer used a Taser on the man before removing the knife and handcuffing him.
Following the incident, the man was taken to the hospital for medical treatment. He remained in the hospital and died three weeks later on Wednesday, July 13th. We can confirm that the man was Donald Burgess, who was 93 years old.
Our investigation stems from a voluntary conduct referral made by the force on June 28 regarding allegations of excessive force by the two officers who responded to the incident.
Taking witness statements and reviewing the officers’ body worn video footage were among the first steps in our investigation. We also attended the post-mortem on July 21 and are awaiting the results of additional cardio-pathology examinations, as the cause of death is unknown.
The two officers involved, both police constables, have now received gross misconduct notices, as well as letters informing them that they are under criminal investigation for manslaughter. These actions do not always result in disciplinary proceedings or criminal charges.
“I want to express my condolences to the man’s relatives and those who knew him,” said IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley. We informed his next-of-kin about our independent investigation and the steps we intend to take.
“This will include determining whether the two officers’ use of force against this male was reasonable, necessary, and proportionate in the circumstances, as well as in accordance with local and national policies, procedures, and guidance.”