Published Date: 22.12.2014
The Police Ombudsman has concluded that police were justified in using Taser against a man with a history of violence who they believed might be reaching for a gun.
The incident happened in Loughgall on 1 May 2013 as police attempted to detain a man wanted in relation to a European arrest warrant.
In common with all incidents in which firearms are discharged by police, the incident was referred by police to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.
During their investigation, Police Ombudsman investigators obtained accounts from all available witnesses, and examined police records. They also seized the Taser and analysed its electronic memory.
They established that prior to mounting the operation, police had information to suggest that the suspect was a member of a crime gang which had access to firearms, and had a history of “extreme violence.”
Officers stated that as they attempted to gain entry by the front door of the property, the suspect appeared at the rear door carrying a holdall.
Officers said he made several attempts to reach into the holdall, including after being instructed by police to put down the bag. The officer who discharged the Taser said he was concerned that the man was reaching for a weapon, and issued a warning before discharging the Taser, the barbs from which struck the man on the torso and a thigh.
This allowed officers to restrain the suspect, who was then taken into police custody and was later the subject of extradition proceedings.
Enquiries established that the officer who used the Taser had been properly authorised and trained to use the weapon. The officers’ accounts of what had happened were all consistent.
The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of the weapon had been lawful, proportionate and necessary.