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Police officer feared colleague had been killed by Sheku Bayoh

PC Ashley Tomlinson (left) gave evidence at the inquiry into Sheku Bayoh's death.
PC Ashley Tomlinson (left) gave evidence at the inquiry into Sheku Bayoh's death.

A police officer feared his colleague had been killed after being “stamped on” by Sheku Bayoh, the inquiry into the Kirkcaldy man’s death has heard.

Ashley Tomlinson gave evidence that PC Nicole Short was attacked by the 31-year-old.

The PC said: “I thought he’d killed her”.

He added he feared he would also be killed and said no amount of training would have prepared them for what they faced.

He said he sprayed Mr Bayoh with PAVA spray to get his attention and then hoped to engage him in conversation.

Instead, Mr Bayoh “charged”.

Police witness PC Ashley Tomlinson.

Sheku Bayoh ‘stamped’ on PC Nicole Short

PC Tomlinson said Mr Bayoh ran past him, after PC Short.

I saw Mr Bayoh strike PC Short with his fist to the back of the head.

“That action caused her to fall or lose balance and she fell forward onto the road.

“She tried to push herself up but he stamped on her back, which has caused her…I thought he’d killed her.”

He said Mr Bayoh stamped on PC Short a second time.

He struck the pipe fitter across the face with his baton and twice more on the arms.

PC Ashley Tomlinson demonstrates how Mr Bayoh ‘stamped’ on PC Nicole Short.

He said: “I honestly thought he’d killed her or was in the process of killing her.

“I deemed that the only option I had was to use my baton because if I’d run at him, if I’d fallen, I would have been on the floor as well and the floor is not a safe place to be when you are dealing with something like that.

“The first strike…didn’t move him away from her, didn’t cause him to fall, it didn’t cause him to turn around and my fear was he was going to do it again.

“I didn’t want to gamble on the ‘what if’, so I delivered two more strikes.”

PC Tomlinson said this caused Mr Bayoh to turn to him with his fists raised.

“I thought: ‘This is it. I’m not going to go home’.”

‘You’ve just saved my life’.

At this point, he believed he was “the only officer left” as he thought PC Craig Walker was incapacitated and he had seen no sign of PC Alan Paton.

Police officer feared colleague 'had been killed by Sheku Bayoh'
PC Ashley Tomlinson (right) told the inquiry he feared his colleague had been killed.

“The next thing I remember is PC Walker coming into my view from my left and in a bear hug/wrestle thing, knock Mr Bayoh off balance and take him to the floor.

“(PC Short) was still lying on the ground and I hadn’t seen her move.

“He seemed to appear from nowhere and I remember the instant feeling of ‘you’ve just saved my life’.”

‘Training can’t prepare you for this’

PC Tomlinson was straddling Mr Bayoh’s legs as he attempted to help PC Walker handcuff him, while Mr Bayoh struggled.

He struck Mr Bayoh’s achilles tendon with his baton in a bid to force him into “pain compliance”, which he said was a recognised technique.

He insisted there was not enough time to call an ambulance to ascertain whether Mr Bayoh was undergoing a psychiatric episode or was under the influence of drink or drugs.

“I wasn’t with him long enough to make a lengthy assessment.

“It obviously would go through my mind he was potentially under the influence of something.

“The fact that spray doesn’t work doesn’t necessarily mean that. It just might not have had any effect.

“Because the incident was happening so fast, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to speak to him normally, without his level of aggression.

“The danger and risk he posed to himself, PC Short and myself was still such that I wasn’t afforded enough time to get on the radio.”

Kosna Bayoh (left) and Kadi Johnson (right), sisters of the late Sheku Bayoh.

He added: “You do training…but what you don’t train for is a situation where you turn up and a male’s not responding to you.

“You don’t train in a scenario where a member of your team is incapacitated or potentially worse.

“Training does prepare you to be a police officer but training can’t prepare you for a situation like this.”

Chair of the inquiry Lord Bracadale.

The inquiry into Mr Bayoh’s death in Kirkcaldy on May 3 2015, before Lord Bracadale, continues.

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