A fireman has been awarded #15,000 compensation after he was assaulted and wrongly arrested in a restaurant by police officers who thought he was a drug dealer.
John James, aged 37, from Oldbury, Sandwell, suffered several injuries after he was "roughly" handcuffed, he claimed. He had his arms twisted behind his back and was forced down on to his knees by a police officer, according to his solicitors.
Officers grabbed Mr James, a fireman with Gloucestershire Fire Services, after mistaking him for a drug dealer they were told had been operating in the area. They approached him at McDonald's on Freeth Street, Oldbury, in June 2004 while he was waiting with his six-year-old son, his ex-partner and a friend.
Both his friend and the restaurant manager tried to intervene, but they were ignored. Mr James was threatened verbally, and then assaulted before being arrested and "forcibly" taken to a nearby police station, according to Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.
Mr James said: "The police officers were informed a black man was selling drugs from a blue car in the car park of McDonald's.
"I was in the queue waiting to be served standing with my son when I was approached by the policeman intent on arresting me.
"I had done nothing wrong and was crying at the time from the pain from the handcuffs digging into my wrist." Mr James said that after being arrested, he was taken to Smethwick police station where he was not read his rights or given access to a telephone, and given a fine for causing public disorder.
Several days after being arrested, he collapsed and had to spend three weeks in Russell Hall Hospital, Dudley, when he had an adverse reaction to a tetanus shot he was given following his arrest.
He appeared in court several times following his arrest, but always denied the charges against him.
Almost a year after he was arrested, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all the charges and he made a formal complaint about his treatment.
He said: "I couldn't believe the treatment I received. I have many friends in the police service and none would have treated me in this way."
The compensation was awarded in an out-of-court settlement and Mr James said: "For what I went through, #15,000 is nothing, but it is not about the money.
"My solicitor won that for me, which is a bonus, but it is about highlighting that there are small pockets in the police force which think they are above the law.
"My argument is that he (the officer) made a mistake and the simple thing for him to do was to apologise, but he didn’t. He made his mistake, my problem."
Iftikhar Manzoor, who represented Mr James in his claim against the police, said: "Mr James is a respectable man and a member of the emergency services.
"This is clearly a case of an over-reaction from police officers on someone they may well have worked alongside in their career.
"We are pleased that the police have settled the case, and that Mr James's integrity and character remain intact."
A statement issued by West Midlands Police said: "The police officer involved in this case resigned prior to any misconduct considerations. The matter is not in dispute and a compensation order has been made."