Like a scene from Road Wars, we see another pursuit come to its end in glorious technocolor in the leafy lanes of Wales.
As if on cue one officer leaps from the pursuing squad car, runs to the drivers window Ã‚Â & proceeds to batter it with gusto, hitting it at least 15 times. Another officer leaps onto the bonnet & kicks at the windscreen.
The driver is led away in handcuffs, another successful pursuit brought safely to an end by officers of Gwent Police.
Except Robert Whatley wasnt your average drugged up joyrider.
In an effort clearly designed to garner maximum impact, papers have described the 70-year-old as a pensioner, retired businessman, someone who had suffered a stroke & Ã‚Â a man who took tablets for a heart condition. As if any one of these were reason enough for our initial sympathy, put together they must be proof absolute of the man’s inability to be aggressive, violent or belligerent.
What is clear is that police had stopped Mr Whatley for traffic offences & were in the process of issuing a ticket for no seat belt, when he drove off.
Whatley stated when he appeared at court recently that he thought the officers had finished despite not being hold anything to that effect. He said he thought the reason they were then following him with blue lights & Ã‚Â two-tones was because they were escorting him home.
True, this was not your normal high-speed, reckless pursuit. It was brought to a halt when another officer used a Stinger to puncture Mr Whatley’s Range Rover tyres.
So what prompted the officers to attack his windows?
Anyone who has watched Road Wars or Traffic Cops or any of the seemingly hundreds of derivative shows will have seen this technique used in almost every show. It is a well-practised distraction & disorientation technique. It is designed to distract the driver from either trying to escape or preparing to attack the officers trying to arrest him, shock Ã‚Â & awe. It’s usually used on people who have clearly demonstrated , by their actions in the previous pursuit, their keenness to avoid capture & willingness to put others’ lives at risk.
Mr Whatley says that, ten months on, his life has been ruined & he suffers flashbacks. It seems only the payment of Ã‚Â£100,000 will lessen the effects of his experience.
Gwent Police say they are investigating take the matter extremely seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, it may be that the officers were over the top – they jave been suspended. But perhaps if they showed the footage of the actual stop check it might go some way to explaining the actions of the officers when they eventually forced Mr Whately to pull over or it might show he was perfectly amenable & just misunderstood the situation. I suspect they never will since senior officers are more concerned with showing how sympathetic they are to the IPCC & comlainants than they are to their own officers. They never stamp on false information at the earliest opportunity because it is always “inappropriateÃ‚Â to comment”.