The alleged attack happened shortly before 8.15pm on Tuesday, August 18.
Members of Northumbria Police’s mounted unit, including horses Perth and Parker, were carrying out a routine patrol of Northumberland Street, a major shopping street in the centre of the city, when they were approached by a member of the public.
He proceeded to “uncomfortably pat” the horses, poking them close to their mouths. He was asked to stop and to maintain social distancing, but he returned and his pats turned into “aggressive slaps”.
When asked to stop he lashed out at the officer who was attempting to detain him, injuring her hand in the process. She was later taken to hospital where she received treatment for a snapped tendon. She is not expected to return to mounted duty for three months.
A nearby group of teenagers who saw the events unfold went to help the officer.
The horses were examined, but fortunately they were uninjured. Northumbria Police say they will not tolerate abuse of either their officers or their horses.
Chief Inspector Sam Rennison said: “We know members of the public love our mounted section and we always encourage people to say hello to our friendly and approachable team.
“But we will absolutely not tolerate any aggression towards or mistreatment of our hard working four-legged colleagues.
“I wish the injured officer, who stood in harm’s way to prevent her equine colleagues sustaining any injury, a very speedy recovery."
Chief Inspector Rennison was keen to pay tribute to the members of the public who went to the police officer’s assistance.
He added: “I offer a heartfelt thank you to the teenagers who saw the struggle unfold and felt compelled to help. I know the injured officer was very touched at their show of support.”
A 41 year-old man was arrested and has since been charged with assaulting an emergency worker. He spent the night in custody and is due to appear at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in September.