Published Date: 26.06.2015
Three police officers who failed to properly look after a drunk man in their care and failed to record that he had fallen and injured his face, have been disciplined following an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.
The man, who had been arrested for fighting in a street in Co. Derry/Londonderry in June 2014, lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office that police had been negligent in allowing him to fall.
He said officers should have taken more care as he had been drinking, had been struck twice on the legs with a police baton and had been placed in both handcuffs and leg restraints.
The man was taken to the local police station, and CCTV footage from outside the custody suite was retrieved by a Police Ombudsman investigator.
It showed the man, who was sitting on the back step of a police Land Rover whilst handcuffed to the rear and in leg restraints, moving his head forward as if to be sick. He then continued to move forward, falling onto the ground and striking the right side of his face.
An officer reached out as the man fell, but was unable to prevent him falling onto the ground.
When interviewed, the three officers who were nearby when he fell said they had no recollection of it and had not noticed any injuries. They also said they were unaware that he had been struck with a baton as the arresting officers had not told them.
When shown the CCTV footage they accepted that the man had fallen, and that the leg restraints and handcuffs should have been removed sooner as he had by then calmed down.
They could offer no explanation as to why they could not recall the incident, which should have been recorded and notified to the custody sergeant.
The PSNI has since disciplined the three officers involved.
However, an allegation that an officer had used excessive force by striking the man twice on the rear of the legs with a baton was not substantiated. The Police Ombudsman investigator noted that the man admitted struggling with the officer during the arrest, and found that the use of force was justified in the circumstances.