I wrote this week that Michael Sam, the Missouri defensive end who came out as gay in February, wasn’t certain to be picked in the NFL draft. Of those players at his position who had been rated as sixth-round picks before the draft — as Sam was — slightly less than 50 percent were chosen by an NFL team.I also wrote that I’d take Sam’s side of the bet given even odds:Personally, however, if the odds are something like 50-50 on Sam being drafted, I think I’d take his side of the bet. Why? A player only needs one team to draft him. A player like Sam who generates polarized opinions might have a better chance of being chosen in a late round by a team like the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks than one who everyone agrees is mediocre.Perhaps this counts as a “correct” (if well-hedged) prediction. But I got one thing pretty wrong. I assumed that Sam would be chosen by a team like the Patriots or the Seahawks or the San Francisco 49ers that play in an urban area especially tolerant toward gay people. But St. Louis was probably the best fit all along.How come? Public acceptance of homosexuality certainly varies from city to city and state to state. If we use support for gay marriage as a rough proxy, for example, I estimate that about 47 percent of voters approve of it in Missouri, as compared with 58 percent in California, 59 percent in Washington state and 66 percent in Massachusetts. (Obviously, the percentages are likely to be higher in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle specifically as opposed to the states as a whole. But that’s probably also true for St. Louis, which is considerably more liberal than the rest of Missouri.)What varies a lot more, however, is appreciation for University of Missouri football. Interest in the Tigers is about 50 times higher in Missouri than in the rest of the country, according to the number of Google searches.In other words, a higher percentage of people in St. Louis and elsewhere in Missouri will know of Sam as a football player and not just as a gay athlete. Here’s hoping that helps him to concentrate on what he does best.
Don’t look now, but Venus Williams is playing some good tennis. Serena’s big sister advanced to the third round of Wimbledon on Wednesday after an uneven start.Big Sis beat Japan’s Kurumi Nara 7-6 (4), 6-1 to reach the third round of a major for only the second time in her last 10 Grand Slam tournaments.The 30th-seeded Williams won six straight points in the tiebreaker and ran off six straight games in the second set to beat 41st-ranked Nara on Court 3 at the All England Club.“In the tiebreaker, that’s when it comes down to who’s going to be more consistent and more aggressive,” Williams said. “In the beginning she was, but, thankfully, I was able to turn it around.”Williams’ next opponent could be 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, the sixth-seeded Czech left-hander who was playing Mona Barthel later Wednesday.“I think we both play similar games, really go for it,” Williams said of Kvitova. “She’s one of the kind of players who can get kind of hot against me.”Williams, winner of seven Grand Slam titles, lost in the first round in her last appearance at Wimbledon in 2012. The only other time she has made it past the second round in her last 10 Grand Slams was at the 2013 Australian Open. She hasn’t reached the fourth round at a major since Wimbledon in 2011.The 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) Williams towered over Nara, the shortest player in the women’s top 100 at 5-foot-1 (1.55 meters).The American served seven aces and had 43 winners. Nara had only five unforced errors, but just 16 winners.Nara took a medical timeout at the end of the first set and received treatment from the trainer on her upper left leg during the second set.Williams was several minutes late in arriving on court, and also left the court after the warm-up. She looked sluggish at the start, falling behind 3-0. She then won five straight games, but was broken serving for the set at 5-4.Nara raced to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Williams won the rest of the points. Williams was broken in the opening game of the second set, then won the next six.Also advancing was second-seeded Australian Open champion Li Na, who beat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-2, 6-2.The second-seeded Li had two early service breaks and was also broken once on her service early in the second set, but took control at 4-2 and then broke the Austrian player a third time in the set.Serving for the match, Li clinched the win with consecutive forehands to the open court and then a cross-court backhand volley.Meusburger had only four winners in the match, compared to 33 for Li.Li, also the 2011 French Open champion, reached last year’s quarterfinals here.
This chart doesn’t give any bonus value to touchdowns, which are slightly more valuable than their equivalent in yardage, though it also doesn’t reflect returns with fumbles lost (which are rare, but still considerably more common than return touchdowns). While some endgame situations may arise where even a bad return is worth trying, and perhaps some of those returns were legitimate responses to openings presented by the kick-coverage unit, ultimately there is no reason to be significantly under the red line save poor judgment. If the entire league had simply taken a knee on these 356 kickoffs it returned out of the endzone, it would have saved a combined 1,108 yards of field position.Kick returners have been more judicious this season — just 23 percent of standard kickoffs have been returned from the end zone, compared with 33 percent last year2That 33 percent was also down from the 42 percent between 2011 and 2014. — but little has changed about the average result of such returns, other than whether they’re worth it.Some teams appear to be figuring this out and have been rewarded as a result. Others have declined the free yards and continued running it out, and they have been punished accordingly: In 2015, the Jacksonville Jaguars returned 24 percent of kickoffs out of the end zone, and had the seventh-worst average starting field position in the league. In 2016, they have the lowest return rate from the end zone in the league at just under 9 percent3Jacksonville returned 8.7 percent to the Carolina Panthers’ 9.3 percent. and are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the second-best starting field position after those kickoffs (both 0.8 yards better than if they’d taken the touchbacks). Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears went from returning 37 percent in 2015 to returning 48 percent in 2016. Yet, despite seeing their starting field position improve from the 23-yard line to the 24-yard line, their advantage fell from being tops in the league (by a wide margin) to being 20th — and one of the 25 teams that would have been better off always taking a knee.Further complicating matters, kickoffs that drop short of the goal line seem to be better for the kicking team than touchbacks (as you can see on the first chart above). Before the new rule came into play, the league anticipated that coaches and kickers might try to game the system by kicking just short of the end zone. This seems to have happened, at least somewhat, with 79 percent of kickoffs going into the end zone this season, down from 87 percent last season. That’s a low mark since the kickoff spot was moved in 2011 (in a stat that had been on the rise). But the fact that teams have been willing to inefficiently return out of the end zone may have limited the incentive to try.If this rule stays, it’s likely that teams will adjust eventually on both sides, meaning fewer returns out of the end zone but fewer kicks into the end zone, as well. Kickoffs may essentially go the way of punts, with how often a kicker pins the opposing team inside the touchback line (“In 25”) becoming an important stat for kickoff specialists.Check out our latest NFL predictions. Citing concerns about safety, the NFL adopted a rule change last offseason that moved touchbacks on kickoffs five yards out to the 25-yard line, ostensibly to reduce the number of kick returns, though perhaps with the added benefit of juicing the league’s offense.For its stated purpose, the effect of the rule change has been underwhelming. Of non-onside kickoffs this season, 39 percent have been returned. While this is an all-time low, it’s only down from 42 percent last season, which was already well below the 52 percent average from 2011-14, which was way below the average before the tee placement for kickoffs was moved to the 35-yard line in 2011. It’s not clear that this decline is any greater than what we would have expected if the rule change on returns hadn’t been adopted, based on the ongoing kicker improvement that has been taking place across the board.While there are multiple issues at play, the main reason the change hasn’t been more effective is straightforward: Despite kick returns out of the end zone being rendered a demonstrably worse bet, teams keep trying them.Below is a chart showing the league average starting field position for standard kickoff returns1Meaning returns from non-onside kickoffs kicked from the 35-yard line, excluding returns that ended in a lost fumble. from near the end zone:
Oh, and don’t forgetUgly helmets in vogue We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeVillanova team one of the best everVillanova defeated Michigan to win the NCAA Men’s tournament Monday evening and in doing so cemented a legendary tournament run for the ages. On average their margin of victory was 17.7 above their opponents — we’d expect only a +7.9 points for that figure — which makes them the fifth-best tourney winners by margin of victory. [FiveThirtyEight]Sergio donates golf equipment to Georgia pondDefending Masters champion Sergio Garcia — who recently named his newborn daughter Azalea after the trademark flowers of Augusta National — did his best to erase any fond memories he has of the iconic golf course on Thursday. At a respectable 2-over par to start the 15th hole, the Spaniard hit his second shot into the water that protects the par-5 green. He took a drop and hit his next shot into the water. Then he did it again. And again. And again. He eventually carded a 13 on the hole — tied for the worst score on any hole in Masters history — on his way to finishing a gruesome 9-over par. [ESPN]Frozen Four coming upThe college men’s hockey championship starts tonight in Minnesota. If you’re looking for the future of the U.S. game, it’s there; while the NHL is 45 percent Canadian and 27 percent American, the Frozen Four teams are 81 percent U.S.-born. Namely, it’s Minnesotans; of the 88 Americans, 26 are from Minnesota. [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?You can gamble on the draftThe lines are out for what goes down at the 2018 NFL Draft. The over/under for Alabama players selected in the first round of the NFL draft is set at 4, which is oddly higher than the over/under line for running backs (1.5) and wide receivers (2.5) in the first round. [ESPN]Chaos at UFC 223Conor McGregor is being stripped of his UFC title because he hasn’t bothered to compete at a UFC event since November 2016. He isn’t taking this well; McGregor and a group of about 20 others allegedly entered the UFC 223 arena area and attacked a bus, and several fighters were injured. [ESPN]In other ridiculous fighting newsWrestlemania is this Sunday, a seven hour time slot full of 13 scheduled fights (and purportedly an additional fight between the Undertaker and John Cena). If that last fight does occur, it’s interesting because despite being two of the top draws for the brand, Cena and the Undertaker have not in fact faced one another in a singles match in more than 11 years. [Deadspin]42 points over the second bananaTaylor Hall is a one-man offense, and in NHL history since 1951 ranks 30th when it comes to the gap between the number of points that the top scorer on the team racked up (93 for Hall) and the second-place scorer on the team (in the Devils’ case, 51 points), at +42. Hilariously, Wayne Gretzky is 10 of those 29 people. [FiveThirtyEight]Big Number(s)26 percentKyrie Irving is hurt and will miss the playoffs. This is devastating for the Celtics’ chances of a title. Their shot of beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in a seven-game series drop from 41 percent with Irving to 26 percent if Irving is replaced with a -1.0 Real Plus/Minus player. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slackkyle: geoff:oofHow surprising is this?kyletotally contradicts what celtics had said about it; team doctors are all fired after this season; the same team doctors who let this whole isaiah mess happen See more NBA predictions Predictions NBA All newsletters
The most anticipated match of the 2019 World Cup will take place Friday with the U.S. facing off against the home team, France, in the quarterfinals. Our model still has the Americans favored, but their performance in the round of 16 against Spain left some analysts concerned about the strength of the team. The Hot Takedown crew debates the U.S.’s chances at outmaneuvering France and discusses what we’ll be watching ahead of that epic matchup.The NBA offseason is as chock-full of takes as the season itself. The draft went mostly as predicted, and free agency formally kicks off this Sunday. On ESPN’s “Get Up!” Bobby Marks suggested that the whole system is doing a disservice to the NBA and recommended that free agency precede the draft. Our team breaks down what affect this could have on the league and who our CARMELO model sees as the highest-profile free agents.Our Rabbit Hole this week digs into sports boardgames.What we’re looking at this week:A recap of the Spain vs. U.S. round of 16 matchup that left us nervous for Friday.Fatigue from the NBA offseason speculation starting earlier and earlier.Need a new game in your life? Can’t get enough baseball? FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code
Saturday brings a handful of games that are close enough to be fascinating — or boring; it depends on your point of view. Love blowouts? We’re unlikely to see one in this set of games (Uruguay and Costa Rica’s predicted goal differential is just 0.7) . But we do have one of the most mismatched mascot matchups with Japan versus Ivory Coast.In briefSee our World Cup interactive for the latest probabilities. — Allison McCannIn depthToday’s sexiest matchup is, of course, England against Italy — a battle between the third-most and fifth-most successful countries in World Cup history. But it’s not quite as sexy as you’d think from the teams’ reputations.England currently ranks tenth in the Soccer Power Index, ESPN’s worldwide ranking of national teams, and that’s quite a bit lower than where it was in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup. Back then, the FiveThirtyEight model (which is based on SPI) gave England the third-best tournament win probability (13.2 percent) of any team in the field. This year, though, England has just the ninth-best chance, at 1.6 percent.Italy, meanwhile, sits even lower in the current SPI rankings — 15th — and its 11th-place showing in the current Elo ratings is the lowest it’s been going into a World Cup since 1986. According to SPI, Italy only has a 1-in-188 chance of winning the Cup this year.Both teams had a similar path through qualifying and friendlies. England played to draws against Ukraine (twice), Poland and Montenegro, and failed to win in four of its last five friendlies against top-10 Elo sides. Italy had draws against Armenia, Denmark, Czech Republic and Bulgaria in qualifying, and is currently riding a seven-game winless streak against international competition. Needless to say, both sides’ form could be better heading into group play.But the talent is still there. England’s roster includes a number of the best players in the English Premier League — Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling — making the team a worthwhile watch even if the Three Lions always seem to play beneath their skill level. Likewise, Italy has a host of recognizable names: Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo, Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele de Rossi, etc. (Although it’s worth noting that SPI’s plus/minus player-rating system, part of which looks at club team performance, doesn’t think quite as highly of Italy’s stars as it does of England’s.)So watch for the stars, and the tradition. One of the group stage’s most competitive games should break out, even if these particular squads aren’t quite at the level usually befitting the insignia on the front of the jerseys.YesterdayThe Netherlands’ 5-1 defeat of Spain on Friday was the worst for a defending champion in World Cup history, and one that ESPN’s Soccer Power Index gave only a 1-in-1,030 chance of happening. The result was almost impossible to predict, but the match’s opening 30 minutes went very much according to plan.The first two-thirds of the first half showed why Spain looked like a bad matchup for the Dutch to test their recent switch to a 5-3-2 formation.All five Dutch backs were making their World Cup debuts, and simple turnovers led to a pair of early Diego Costa chances for Spain. Spain held a 56-9 advantage on touches in the attacking third, paced by a 40 for 58 passing performance into the final third. In that same span, the Dutch completed only 85 total passes, including just nine into the attacking third.A penalty kick goal from Xabi Alonso at the 27-minute mark put Spain up 1-0.The next 60 minutes were somewhat less predictable.One of the strengths of a 5-3-2 formation is the opportunities it presents fullbacks to get forward in attack, and Dutch left fullback Daley Blind was Exhibit A for what happens when it works. Blind struck a long ball to Robin van Persie, whose 17.5-yard header was the longest headed goal since 1970 (the start of ESPN Stats & Info’s data set).Blind kept his second assist shorter — a 31-yard chip behind Spanish defenders Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos that Arjen Robben ran onto for a golden scoring chance.Over the last 60 minutes of the match, the Dutch matched Spain’s attacking-third passing total (42 completed passes each), a rare feat for this generation of Spanish soccer. — John Parolin, senior stats analyst, ESPNOFF THE PITCHAn exciting foot chase between an English striker and an Italian defender may evoke a Rolls Royce racing a Fiat — both countries are known for their fine cars as much as their footballers. And sure enough, according to OECD trade data (if you’ll permit us to let U.K. figures stand in for English ones), cars represent the largest British export to Italy, at over 12 percent in 2011; and about 7 percent of Italians’ exports to the U.K. were cars or auto parts, too.Cars, buses and delivery trucks also make up the lion’s share of Japan’s exports to the
Junior linebacker Curtis Grant looks on from the sideline during a game against Florida A&M Sept. 21 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 76-0.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe Ohio State Buckeyes enter Big Ten season unscathed, outscoring their opponents 210-61 in the process. The No. 23-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (3-1) head to Columbus Saturday looking to avenge their 21-14 overtime loss to OSU last season.The Buckeyes are hoping to get their starting quarterback, junior Braxton Miller, back this week. Coach Urban Meyer said he is “around 90” percent back to full strength after spraining the MCL in his left knee against San Diego State week 2. Miller sat out the Buckeyes’ last two games.Meyer said he wanted to get Miller on the field against Florida A&M despite the reigning success of redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton.“I hoped all week that we would get him in there, even if it was for just a few series,” Meyer said. “But (Miller’s knee) wasn’t as stable as it could have been.”Meyer said it will be difficult to fit both quarterbacks into the offense moving forward.“I don’t know if that’s a reality,” Meyer said. “I keep thinking of a way — I just don’t know. Both (of) those players are good players.”Much like Miller, starting redshirt-senior center Corey Linsley has been working back from offseason foot surgery early in 2013. No matter the severity of an injury, Linsley said it can be tough to sit on the sideline during games.“I’m sure Braxton’s feeling a lot of the same emotions that I was feeling,” Linsley said. “It’s not so much you’re worried about yourself, you’re worried about everybody else getting better without you. You don’t want to be the weak link.”Whether he is snapping the ball to Miller or Guiton, Linsley said he is confident the team will be successful. However, having Miller in the game gives the Buckeyes an extra advantage.“You can talk about (Texas A&M quarterback and 2012 Heisman winner) Johnny Manziel all you want, there’s nobody out there quicker at the quarterback position than Braxton,” Linsley said. “He provides that type of spark and excitement.”On the opposing side of the ball, Wisconsin is having a new found success due to a change its defensive schemes.“They’re very active,” Meyer said. “They are very well-coached. They play (multiple defensive fronts)… Throughout college football you’ll see how that does cause problems like our defense (does), we do a little bit of both. It’s a much different scheme than a year ago.”OSU players have to focus on themselves if they want to win, Linsley said.“I know it sounds clichéd and corny, but we really are worried about ourselves and our game plan preparation,” Linsley said. “We’re not worried about anything else and that’s what makes us a really good team.”The Badgers rank third in the NCAA with just under 350 average rushing yards per game. The team is coming off a victory against Purdue in which Wisconsin running backs, redshirt-sophomore Melvin Gordon and senior James White, ran for 147 and 145 yards respectively. Gordon leads the country with 624 yards rushing, and is tied for second with seven touchdowns trailing OSU redshirt-senior Jordan Hall who has eight..Junior linebacker Curtis Grant said both players have a different style, but that does not change how OSU’s defense is approaching them.“One is bigger than the other, one is faster and one is more of a power back and one is more of a speedster,” Grant said. “You just got to play your gap and make some tackles.”Grant compared Gordon and White’s size and abilities to those of OSU running backs senior Carlos Hyde and Hall, and said that preparation will be the key to success.“First thing you think of about Wisconsin is a powerhouse team,” Grant said. “Big lineman and they’re going to pound the ball. They’re going to run it at least 40-50 times a game. You have to prepare for that.”Stopping the high-powered rushing offense of Wisconsin is accomplished in the trenches, according to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell.“The game is won up front, and I don’t care what kind of game it is,” Fickell said. “It will be evident this week. Whether it’s their offensive line or our defensive line, or our offensive line or their defensive line, that’s where the game is going to be won.”Getting back to playing physical football is something Linsley is looking forward to.“The intensity has never left, whether a spread team or a power I,” Linsley said. “They type of mentality, the power and physical mentality has never left us. It’s definitely nice to get back into that going against Wisconsin.”Wisconsin enters Big Ten play having won the last three conference title games. Meyer credited their success to their physical play, calling them the “King of the Big Ten right now.”“(I) have a lot of respect for Wisconsin,” Meyer
She added: “The celebrity treatment continued on board when we were given front row seats and a private safety talk.”The plane took off really quickly because it was so light – it felt like we were on a private jet.”The cabin crew were laughing and even the pilot made an announcement stating he’d never flown a commercial flight with so few people.”On board, the women were given unlimited Champagne – and say they got through 10 mini-bottles between them.They took videos and selfies on board and tucked into breaded chicken and potato salad with cheese, hot crusty rolls and chocolate pudding. Three women have said they were treated like “rock stars” when they found themselves alone on a British Airways flight for 150 people.Laura Stevens, 34, said she and friends Sarah Hunt, 35, and Laurie-Lin Waller, 33, were upgraded to business class, drank Champagne and took selfies in the cockpit on the 2.5-hour flight.The women were due to fly back to the UK on the 5.20pm flight from Gibraltar to London Heathrow on December 18 after enjoying a three-day break. Credit:SWNS Ms Stevens said: “We put on our shades and had a great time partying on board. We joked about being a girl band and took videos of us strolling up and down the aisles.”Cabin crew warned us that the fog meant it could take a while to land but we were having such a fantastic time we told them to take their time – we wanted the flight to go on forever.”When the plane landed, Ms Stevens and Ms Hunt, who is from Gibraltar, and Ms Walker, from Glasgow, took selfies in the cockpit and say ground staff “couldn’t believe” there were just three passengers aboard.”Even strolling through passport control we felt like celebs as there were no queues. The whole thing was so surreal,” added Ms Stevens.”People pay thousands for the kind of experience we had, but we got it all for the cost of an economy ticket – it was a real one-off.”We can’t thank BA enough – they made our Christmas!” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
In attendance at Worcs Cathedral with @HWFireWorcs @HWFireMalvern for rescue of male from bell tower #notjustfires pic.twitter.com/AgGGubxKvP— Grant Wills (@HWFireGCWills) February 11, 2017 A bell ringer had to be rescued from Worcester Cathedral after he got trapped in the ropes and hoisted into the air.Ian Bowman, 51, was in the historic bell tower of the 13th century cathedral when his foot got caught in one of the moving ropes.In a “freak accident”, the experienced ringer was lifted a couple of feet into the air before being slammed into the floor, injuring his back and cutting his head.Fire crews, including a specialist rope rescue team, were called around 5pm on Saturday when it emerged Mr Bowman could not be safely moved without being lowered 80ft from the bell tower. “I am waiting for a call to see if I have fractured my spine or not,” he said.“I might have to go to Torbay Hospital if that is the case and that is quite a drive away but I am not sure yet.”Mark Regan, the ringing master at Worcester Cathedral, praised the emergency services as he described the incident as a “freak accident”.He added: “Mr Bowman, an experienced ringer from Devon, got his foot caught in a rope and he fell and hurt his head.”He got his foot caught when a rope was moving and he went up in the air a couple of feet and landed awkwardly.”He is fine, the emergency services were brilliant. They had been here to practise, so they knew what to do. It was quite dramatic.” Mr Regan said it was “very reassuring” to know the firefighters are trained to deal with this kind of emergency situation.He added: “It has nothing to do with the safety of bell ringing, it was a freak accident.”The Devon ringers had travelled to Worcester to ring for the hour-long evensong, which started at around 4.30pm.The tower at the cathedral contains 16 bells, including a bourdon bell, which together weigh 16 tonnes – the fifth heaviest ring in the world. It also has a teaching centre, which has been purpose-built to allow people to learn how to ring on eight training dumb-bells. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. He was eventually rescued after the crew opened up several trapdoors in the cathedral and use a rope system to lower the stretcher to its marble floor during the evensong service.Mr Bowman was taken to Worcestershire Royal Hospital where he was treated for a cut to his head and back pain.He was recovering at his home in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon, on Sunday, where he said he was waiting to find out more information about his injuries and was concerned he may have fractured his back. Technical and challenging job to rescue one male from bell tower, professional crews a credit to the community they serve pic.twitter.com/vEOxNuUnWk— Grant Wills (@HWFireGCWills) February 11, 2017 Dramatic pictures taken during the rescue showed a member of the fire service holding on to the stretcher as it was lowered past the cathedral’s organ.After the incident, Grant Wills, a group commander from the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, wrote on Twitter that it was a “technical and challenging job”.“Professional crews [are] a credit to the community they serve,” he added.Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s control room confirmed two crews and a specialist rope team had helped with the rescue, which took around 30 minutes.A spokesman for West Mercia Police said officers were not called to the incident. Emergency services outside the cathedral Credit: Grant Wills Fire crews, including a specialist rope rescue team, were called when it emerged Mr Bowman, who also hurt his back in the incident, needed to be lowered 80ft from the bell tower to the cathedral’s floorCredit:Grant Wills
A police officer has been filmed punching a man in the face as he was being detained under the Mental Health Act.The mobile phone video shows the handcuffed man being held down by three officers, one of whom is seen drawing back a clenched fist.The officer is then seen hitting the man in the face, before he is turned over and led away following the incident in Yeovil, Somerset, on Wednesday.In response to the footage being posted online, Avon and Somerset Police released its own 24-second clip of the arrest, which was filmed on an officer’s body-mounted camera.The police footage includes audio and shows a different angle as the man was repeatedly ordered to let go of an officer’s arm.A male officer tells him: “Let go of my arm now. I will ask you one more time to let go of my arm. Let go of my arm. Five…” Handout body-mounted camera still dated 31/05/17 issued by Avon and Somerset Police of a man being detained under the Mental Health Act as he was punched in the face by an officer in Yeovil, SomersetCredit:Avon and Somerset Police/PA Handout body-mounted camera still dated 31/05/17 issued by Avon and Somerset Police of a man being detained under the Mental Health Act after he was punched by in the face by an officer in Yeovil, SomersetCredit:Avon and Somerset/PA An onlooker interrupts and says: “Go on mate punch him.”The male officer continues: “Four… three…”A female officer adds: “Let go of his arm.”Another voice can be heard saying in the background: “Punch him in the face.”Moments later an officer can be heard striking the man, who releases his grip a few seconds later. Handout body-mounted camera still dated 31/05/17 issued by Avon and Somerset Police of a man being detained under the Mental Health Act before he was punched by in the face by an officerCredit:PA/Avon and Somerset Police A witness then says: “Oh, that’s a bit naughty. That is definitely on video. That’s on Facebook, mate.”The original video was put online without audio, but offers a clearer view of the punch. “This decision is always taken to safeguard the individual from harming themselves and others.”While we always act in the best interests of the person in crisis, there is sometimes a need for restrain to protect the person, our officers and members of the public.”This man was taken to a mental health facility where he can receive the treatment he needs.”The public rightly expects police officers to use force reasonably so we welcome their scrutiny. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Luke Harris, who posted the video on his Facebook page, wrote: “This guy was detained under the Mental Health Act.”Whilst three officers had him in cuffs, he was punched without being able to defend himself. I think this is wrong.”Avon and Somerset Police said its professional standards department was investigating the incident.”We were called shortly before 5pm from the ambulance service regarding a man acting aggressively towards their staff,” a force spokesman said.”It appeared the man was suffering from a mental health episode, so officers took the decision to detain him under the Mental Health Act. “Our professional standards department will now make their own enquiries into this matter.