Van driver wins settlement over claim police officer ‘grabbed’ him by the throat

A van driver who claimed he was grabbed by the throat by a police officer has been awarded a £7,000 out-of-court settlement from Nottinghamshire Police after he made a complaint alleging excessive force had been used.

Motorist Mark Tassi said he’d been stopped by an unmarked police car in Crabtree Road, Bulwell.

Mr Tassi, 45, said there were two police officers in the car who suspected he’d been driving aggressively, which he denied, and that a struggle ensued after he’d retrieved his driving licence from his van for checks.

One of the officers put his hands around the neck of Mr Tassi, it’s claimed.

“It was horrendous,” said Mr Tassi, a married dad-of-three who grew up in Radford.

“I was struggling to breathe, I could not swallow – I was struggling to swallow water.”

Mr Tassi, who now lives in Chaddesden, Derby, said he officially complained to Nottinghamshire Police a few days after the alleged incident.

With the help of a solicitor, who claimed one of the police officers exerted “excessive” force, Mr Tassi accepted an out-of-court offer from Nottinghamshire Police of £7,000 plus his legal fees.

The offer was formally accepted in August.

But Mr Tassi said he’d been left disgusted by the situation, saying that he was “just an average man going about my daily business”.

The incident was alleged to have happened in September 2018 after Mr Tassi had finished work for the day.

He explained he was behind the wheel of his Renault Kangoo when he saw the unmarked police car as he was on the A610 at the Nuthall Island, and that he was subsequently pulled over in Crabtree Road.

“I have got out my van and asked them why they have pulled me over,” said Mr Tassi, who fits windows and doors and works in the building trade installing conveyor systems.

“They said I was driving aggressively.

“We were sort of [discussing] each other’s bad driving if you like. I was saying it was them, they were saying it was me.”

Mr Tassi claims he was told by the police he’d been detained, saying he went into his van to get his driving licence kept in the window compartment of his wallet which was in the vehicle.

But a struggle ensued when he got out his wallet, alleged Mr Tassi.

He claims one of the officers “grabbed” him by the throat”, saying: “He pushed me against the van and like lifted me off my feet.”

He said he was left “scared”, feeling “confused” and “dizzy”.

“The whole thing of being pulled over to me driving away was probably five minutes,” he added.

Mr Tassi, who explained he wasn’t arrested or cautioned, said he went to A&E at the Royal Derby Hospital that evening, and that he was checked over and told to take Paracetamol.

After complaining to the police force, Mr Tassi approached Matthew McConville, a specialist actions against the police solicitor at Irvings Law.

Mr McConville took over Mr Tassi’s complaint to Nottinghamshire Police which, according to Mr McConville, was upheld.

Mr McConville said he presented a compensation claim to the police force alleging the force exerted by one of the officers had been “excessive”.

He said he advised Mr Tassi to issue and serve court proceedings and, once this was done, Mr Tassi accepted an offer from Nottinghamshire Police to settle his claim in the sum of £7,000, plus his legal costs.

Mr McConville said: “Although this should never have occurred in the first place, and neither should Mr Tassi have had to issue court proceedings to seek the appropriate redress that he deserves, we welcome the force’s willingness to settle without the need of attending an expensive trial where the public purse would be on the line.

“We at Irvings Law will continue to represent those across the country whom have been failed by the police and their officers for the recourse that they are entitled to just like Mr Tassi here.

“If you have been affected by any police misconduct, please contact us via our website and we may be able to help you too.”

Nottinghamshire Police declined to comment.