A Fife police officer linked to the custody death of Sheku Bayoh told how she feared “a murder was about to take place” after being called to the 2015 incident.
PC Nicole Short provided a written account detailing her recollection of the events of May 3, when she was called to the Templehall area of Kirkcaldy at around 7.20am.
The 32-year-old, who has been signed off sick with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since the incident, said police had received calls of black male with a knife on Hayfield Road.
She told how she believed colleagues had used CS and PAVA spray on Bayoh, 31, but noted that he reacted to it by “laughing and wiping it away from his eyes like it was just water”.
The new details were revealed in an opinion notice by Lord Stephen Woolman which was made public following a legal battle by PC Short for the right to retire early on medical grounds.
Her statement said: “Mr Bayoh’s muscles were bulging and he looked aggressive. He was not listening to their commands and looked very intimidating.
“He appeared out of control and dangerous and given the reports of him chasing people with a knife as well as his demeanour and the way he didn’t react to the sprays, I felt that he could not be permitted to leave.
“I was terrified that he was going to kill a member of the public if he was allowed to leave the street, which is what he was trying to do.
“I still fully believed that he had a knife in his possession.
“I issued Mr Bayoh with verbal instructions and commands to stop by shouting, ‘stop … stay where you are, put your hands behind your back, get down on your knees’. He ignored me.”
PC Short told how another colleague again used spray on Bayoh but it continued to have no effect, prompting her to draw her police baton as he allegedly walked towards her.
She continued: “I swiped my baton at him whilst he was skipping towards me to try to show him that I was serious and that he needed to stop.
“I swiped towards the middle of his body and I completely missed him. Mr Bayoh was now so close to me that he was right in my face and I decided to turn around and run.
“I was screaming at this point and desperate to get away from him. I screamed ‘NOOOOO’. I knew that he was chasing me, and I knew that he was right behind me.
“I could hear him behind me and I knew from what he had said and the way he had moved towards me that he was going to hammer me.
“I felt an enormous blow to the back of my head over to the lower right side. I went flying. My feet actually left the ground and I landed on the ground almost at the other side of the road.”
PC Short was taken to hospital before returning to Kirkcaldy Police Station.
Mr Bayoh, a gas engineer, was pronounced dead a short time later and a probe by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner was launched.
PC Short and colleague PC Alan Paton, 44, who was also involved in the incident, had asked the Scottish Police Authority for permission to retire early due to ill-health.
But their pleas were rejected by the SPA who felt it would not be in the “public interest” to allow medical discharges because of the PIRC investigation into the “high profile” death.
Lord Woolman has sided with the two officers and has ordered the SPA to reconsider allowing them to retire.
He said: “I conclude that the SPA’s reasons do not add up. There is an unabridged gap between the alleged involvement of the officers in a high profile incident and the conclusion that it was in the public interest that they should be prevented from retiring.
“The decision was therefore irrational. To say that they were ‘involved’ in the incident is not enough. Something more is required.
“I also hold that, as the counterpart, the SPA failed to take into account the relevant consideration that the officers have never been told that they may face proceedings.”
He added: “I shall grant orders reducing the decision letters, and require the SPA to reconsider the petitioners’ applications for retirement on the grounds of ill-health within 30 days of the date of the order.”
Scottish Police Federation deputy general secretary David Kennedy said: “We welcome the outcome of this Judicial Review which makes clear these officers suffered significant injury in the execution of their duties and qualify to retire on grounds of ill health.
“We hope that a decision is made soon by the Scottish Police Authority to allow this.
“We continue to support our members and hope that a date for a Fatal Accident Inquiry or a Public Inquiry will be made soon.
“It is in the interests of all concerned in these tragic events that the facts are judicially determined.”
An SPA spokeswoman said: “The SPA chief executive has reviewed these decisions as instructed by Lord Woolman and in accordance with the SPA’s governance arrangements.
“We cannot comment further at this stage.”