A police officer who became a laughing stock after he was captured on video smashing his way into a disabled pensioner’s car with his truncheon is in line for a six-figure payout after winning an employment tribunal.
Pc Mike Baillon claimed he was forced out of his job due to a “bullying campaign” by colleagues in Gwent Police, who teased him and wrote comments on his locker at the police station after the incident appeared on YouTube, the online video sharing website.
Mr Baillon was one of two police officers who pulled over Robert Whatley, 74, for failing to wear a seat belt after following him along country roads near Usk in Monmouthshire, South Wales, in 2009.
Mr Whatley sat in his car expecting an officer to tap politely on his window. But Mr Baillon pulled out his truncheon and hit the window 15 times while his colleague climbed onto the bonnet and kicked in the windscreen of the £60,000 Range Rover.
Footage of the incident was released from the dashboard camera in Mr Baillon’s police car and quickly went viral on the internet. It was reportedly viewed more than 30 million times on YouTube.
Mr Baillon told an employment tribunal in Cardiff that he was moved from the roads unit to a local policing team after the incident, and that “bullying and harassment” he suffered as a result of the video had forced him to resign.
The tribunal ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed from his traffic police job after writing a “whistle-blowing” letter to the force raising a number of concerns about the way his case had been handled.
The panel has yet to decide how much compensation Mr Baillon, 42, should receive, but it is likely to run to six figures because of lost earnings and pension entitlements.
The incident was triggered when Mr Whatley was pulled over by officers for a minor traffic offence but drove away before they had finished dealing with him.
He was pursued for 17 minutes along country lanes and when the car was finally brought to a halt, the video shows Mr Baillon running up to the driver’s door with his baton drawn and striking the window repeatedly. He has never publicly explained why he used force against the vehicle.
After the incident Mr Whatley, who claimed he thought the officers were giving him a police escort home, was found guilty of not wearing a seat belt, failing to stop, using a vehicle with defective registration plates and having non-standard tinted windows.
The pensioner, who had a disabled driver’s blue badge because he was recovering from a stroke, was fined £235.
However, Mr Whatley also received £20,750 compensation from Gwent Police for the damage to his car and £45,000 in costs, the employment tribunal heard.
The pensioner said at the time: “You would have thought I had robbed a bank.
“It’s something you might expect in America but not in the quiet of the British countryside.”
Mr Baillon was investigated for potential criminal offences but no action was taken and he was later exonerated in disciplinary proceedings.
The tribunal heard that after asking for a meeting with a senior officer Mr Baillon was told not to go “boring people with a tale of woe as they won’t be interested in it”.
There continued to be “unpleasant comments” from other officers and Mr Baillon’s locker was defaced in February last year, leading to his resignation a few months later.
Jean Norton, from Ashfords solicitors who represented the officer, said: “Mr Baillon and his family are incredibly relieved by the positive outcome.
“This matter has caused both him and his family undue stress and financial loss, and the team is delighted to have been able to help Mr Baillon, a conscientious and highly regarded police officer, win this victory.”