Police justified in using CS Spray and drawing gun against juvenile with knife in Lurgan

Published Date: Dec 2019

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has found that police were justified in using CS Spray and drawing a gun against a 17-year-old in Lurgan in 2014.

CS Spray was used by a female officer who said the youth had ran towards her with a knife in the early hours of 28 December 2014.

When the youth continued to act aggressively and threatened to stab police, another officer drew his gun and ordered the youth to show his hands and lie on the ground.

The officers were then able to secure the knife before handcuffing the youth.

The incident, which happened as police responded to a report of concern for the boy’s safety, was referred by the Chief Constable to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.

A Police Ombudsman investigator reviewed relevant police documentation and obtained statements from the officers involved as well as from the youth. She also made witness and CCTV enquiries, but these produced no additional evidence.   

The female officer stated that the youth was about a metre from her when she discharged the CS Spray in self-defence. She said there had been no time to shout a warning about its use.

The colleague who drew his gun and ordered the youth to lie on the ground, said he did so because the youth was continuing to act aggressively and was threatening to use the knife against police.

The Police Ombudsman investigator noted that the officer who used CS Spray was properly trained in the use of the weapon and authorised to carry it at the time of the incident.

She concluded that the use of the spray was appropriate and justified given the immediate threat faced by the officer.

The investigator also concluded that the officer who drew his gun had acted correctly, given that the CS Spray had not been completely effective and the youth was threatening to use the knife.

The youth’s complaint that the use of force by police had been excessive was closed as not substantiated.

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