Hero Preston cop David Baines is under investigation after claims he used excessive force to foil an armed $1m jewels raid in a dramatic Dirty Harry-style bust.
The former Lancashire detective, now Police Commissioner in the Cayman Islands, was hailed by locals as a crimefighting champion after he captured three suspected robbers single-handed on New Year’s Day – hours after being awarded the MBE.
But now it has been revealed Mr Baines, 53, is being investigated by his own force for the way he ran over one of the men and pinned the other two against a fence with his car.
The injured man, who has since appeared in court on a hospital stretcher, is said to have suffered multiple injuries after being crushed under the police chief’s unmarked vehicle. It took rescue worker two hours to free him.
Almost three months after the arrest, suspect Jonathan Ramoon, 35, is still reported to be receiving treatment for injuries to both legs, hip, upper body and arm.
In his last court appearance two weeks ago, he arrived for the hearing in a wheelchair to answer charges of robbery and possessing a firearm.
A source in the Caribbean paradise told the Lancashire Evening Post an internal investigation was “normal procedure” in such cases where a suspect suffers injury during an arrest or a period of detention.
But there are now claims the police may not have followed the usual protocol in Commissioner Baines’s case because he was not breath-tested at the time.
The drama unfolded at breakfast-time on January 1 as the off-duty commissioner was sitting in his Chevrolet 4x4 vehicle on the quayside of the capital George Town, waiting for the arrival of an old friend from Preston, former Det Supt Bob Helm, on a cruise ship.
Mr Baines sprang into action when he saw three men flee from the jewellery store opposite, one of them carrying a handgun.
As they jumped into a getaway car, the chief crashed his vehicle into it to block their escape.
When they leapt from the vehicle and tried to escape on foot he gave chase in his car, trapping two of them against a fence until passersby could help him make an arrest.
“I did my job – it’s as simple as that,” said Mr Baines, as witnesses congratulated their hero police chief with an impromptu round of applause in the street. “I only did what I would expect any officer of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to do.
“I went after them and hit two of the guys up against the fence. The third one somehow slipped beneath my car and was trapped. I am told he’s OK, nothing life-threatening.”
The Preston-born cop took up the role of Commissioner in 2009 after a distinguished 31-year police career in the North of England.
He began as a cadet with Lancashire as a 16-year-old and moved into CID six years later.
He became a chief inspector, working in Special Branch and in counter-terrorism before joining Greater Manchester Police.
He joined Cheshire Constabulary in 2005 as assistant chief constable.
Commissioner Baines had his four-year contract in the Cayman Islands renewed in April last year.
The chief has publicly commented that the use of force by any police officer has to be necessary, justified and proportionate, whatever the context and circumstances.
As a result, he said, he was assisting the investigating and would continue to do so until a decision has been made about whether or not the force he used was proportionate.