Couple at centre of "police brutality" video appeal for witnesses (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Couple at centre of "police brutality" video appeal for witnesses
A COUPLE at the centre of a video accusing police officers of brutality today (Wednesday, December 18) said that a formal complaint has been lodged and witnesses are being sought.
The video, taken on August 1, shows the aftermath of an incident in Stockton High Street in which a couple, Darran Dunford and Leigh Leach, were arrested.
CCTV footage viewed 23,000 times on YouTube entitled Cleveland Police Brutality: putting people first, shows officers pinning Mr Dunford to the road before pressing his head into the ground - a manoeuvre he says rendered him unconscious.
One officer is then shown repeatedly kneeing him in the back before another delivers a series of blows to his upper body.
In a witness statement obtained by The Northern Echo, one officer confirms he punched Mr Dunford in the face during the arrest.
Mr Dunford was later convicted of two counts of assaulting an officer in the execution of his or her duty.
The force say that the tactics used during his arrest were approved and necessary as Mr Dunford was trying to resist arrest - a claim the couple vehemently deny.
Mr Dunford said the incident left him cut, bruised and urinating blood.
The 43-year-old was on his way home from a folk festival in Stockton when he was stopped by police officers responding to reports of a man being drunk and disorderly in a nearby pub.
He was arrested and handcuffed after swearing at the officers. During the arrest, he claims there was an accidental "clash of heads" as the officers tried to get him into the police car.
However, Cleveland Police say Mr Dunford headbutted the officers.
Mr Dunford said: "I was in the police car when the majority of officers turned up.
"They dragged me out of it. I was unconscious after being punched in the head, there's no way I was resisting.
"They said they were punching me to give me a dead arm but that's nonsense, I was already cuffed when they dragged me out of the car."
Ms Leach said: "It was terrifying. I wanted to call the police but it was the police."
The footage also shows Ms Leach, 45, being forcibly taken to the ground and arrested. She said: "I was screaming at them, asking them why they were punching him.
"It was like a nightmare, the level of aggression was awful."
Ms Leach has lodged a formal complaint with the force over her treatment during her arrest.
She said: "When they arrested me, my dress was pulled up and showing my underwear. I asked them to pull it down but even the WPC refused to touch me.
"I travelled in the police van with male officers to Middlesbrough with my thong showing and it was only when I got to the station that a female custody sergeant ordered them to pull my dress down.
"It was humiliating and degrading."
Mr Dunford plans to appeal his conviction and lodge a complaint.
He is appealing for witnesses to the incident to contact him. "There were other people around that evening and I want them to come forward to help us get justice," he said.
"I want to make it clear that I committed no crime to justify the police pulling me over in the first place."
Following a statement released last week in which the force said there was a danger the CCTV footage could be taken out of context if not viewed with the full knowledge of the facts, Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland Police Iain Spittal added: "I am satisfied that, following an internal review of the circumstances, my officers used approved techniques in line with their training and legislation."
Witnesses can email Mr Dunford at email@example.com
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