Police officers to appear in court over assault on disabled man in care home

Two police officers will appear in court charged with assaulting an elderly disabled man in a dementia care home.

Pc Stephen Smith, 50, and Pc Rachel Comotto, 34, are charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after their use of force against 93-year-old Donald Burgess.

The Sussex Police officers had attended the unit in St Leonards-on-Sea after a report of a resident with a knife threatening staff on June 21 2022.

A Taser, an incapacitant spray, handcuffs and a baton were used on Mr Burgess (pictured) who was taken to hospital after the incident.

The 93-year-old died in hospital three weeks later.

Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said evidence did not show the incident caused or contributed to his death.

The criminal proceedings come after the IOPC investigation which began with a voluntary referral from Sussex Police in June 2022.

The investigation was completed six months later with a file of evidence being given to the Crown Prosecution Service in June 2023.

Smith is charged with two counts of actual bodily harm, and Comotto is charged with one count of actual bodily harm.

The pair will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 25.

IOPC director Mel Palmer said: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Burgess’s family and everyone affected by this incident. We have kept his family, Sussex Police and the coroner informed throughout our investigation.

“Following our investigation, the CPS has authorised charges against both officers and criminal proceedings will now take place.”

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