Former PC said he feared a ‘Lee Rigby incident’ as Sheku Bayoh was arrested

PC Alan Paton said he feared a Lee Rigby-like incident when he arrived to arrest Sheku Bayoh.
PC Alan Paton said he feared a Lee Rigby-like incident when he arrived to arrest Sheku Bayoh.

A former police officer involved in arresting Sheku Bayoh said he feared he was going to be killed in a “Lee Rigby incident”.

Alan Paton was first on the scene after multiple calls Mr Bayoh was in the street in Kirkcaldy with a knife.

Although there was no knife in sight when he arrived, Mr Paton said he believed he could have had one concealed.

He tried to use CS spray on Mr Bayoh but it blew back into his face and he ended up curled behind a police van as the chaotic arrest continued.

The UK terror alert level was at severe and Mr Paton said he took the possibility of terrorism into account during every call regarding a knife.

Alan Paton giving evidence to the inquiry.

The now-retired former officer who still has PTSD, said: “I had visions of the Lee Rigby incident – just blood everywhere.

“I was curled up waiting for something to come down on the back of my neck or something to be stabbed in my neck.

“I thought, genuinely, I was a goner.”

Fusilier Lee Rigby was run over and then stabbed to death by terrorists in 2013.

Drummer Lee Rigby.

Mr Paton added: “I had visions that my sides are exposed, the back of your neck’s exposed.

“I expected a meat cleaver or a knife in the side of the neck.

“Then I started to have the thoughts, ‘am I going to get home from my shift tonight? Am I going to see my wife again? Am I going to see my kids again?’

“That’s what’s still causing me problems and that’s the main part of my PTSD. I still can’t get that out of my mind.”

‘Lone wolf’ rumour

Mr Paton, 48, was giving evidence to the inquiry into Mr Bayoh’s death in custody on Hayfield Road, Kirkcaldy in May 2015.

He said when he first found the 31-year-old, his only thought was to protect the public, police and Mr Bayoh himself.

Former PC Nicole Short.

He said there had been a rumour around Kirkcaldy police station a “lone wolf” was going to target a female officer.

He said: “I was aware there was a female officer going – Nicole Short – and there was a strong rumour a female officer was going to get injured by a lone wolf.

“It was common knowledge at Kirkcaldy police station.”

He said he left the police van with his CS spray canister out and ordered Mr Bayoh to the ground.

Alan Paton demonstrates how he was holding the CS spray.

He said Mr Bayoh’s eyes were “bulging” and he was ignoring instructions.

He said: “I emphasised my spray with a straight arm – (There was) no question at all he didn’t see it.

“I pointed down to the ground and said ‘get yourself down on the f***ing ground’ and he just kept walking towards me while I’m walking back.

“There was no reaction whatsoever. I sprayed him.”

‘Out of control’

Asked why he did not try to de-escalate the situation, Mr Paton described Mr Bayoh as a “zombie” who was not reacting.

Sheku Bayoh
Sheku Bayoh.

He said: “It’s not the situation for asking questions.

“The man was out of control, the man was drugged up, the man had a big knife and was using it – he was attacking cars.

“I needed firm control from the word go.”

He added: “This incident was completely non-textbook, a situation we didn’t train for.

“There was not enough resources and could only be dealt with by clear, concise command and if he chooses to ignore those commands, then so be it.”

Although he considered it may have been a mental health crisis, he said that would have made no difference to his reaction.

Mr Paton joined the struggle, using a baton on Mr Bayoh’s bicep, who he said demonstrated “superhuman strength” due to the drugs he believed he had taken.

He took part in the ultimately unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.

He said he has since gone on to believe Mr Bayoh was “on a mission” to find his friend Zahid Saeed, with whom he had earlier fought, possibly to kill him.

Evidence given earlier

Mr Paton, who had 14 years service at the time, insisted race played absolutely no part in his actions at any stage of the arrest.

He was taken through three earlier complaints made about him during his career, one of which was concerned with race and resulted in “corrective advice”.

He said in every instance, the complaint had been unfounded.

He was also asked about an incident in which he was said to have made a remark to his grandfather – now deceased – in a supermarket, that he “was a total racist and hated all blacks”.

He denied this ever happened and said the allegation had arisen due to a family dispute involving his sister and brother-in-law.

Due to his mental health, his evidence was given in a closed hearing on June 13, which was played to the hearing.

Lord Bracadale, the inquiry chair, said the evidence may otherwise not have been heard at all.

Lord Bracadale.

The inquiry continues.

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Kirkcaldy – The Courier