Police justified in using Taser against man threatening to kill himself

Police were justified in using Taser against a man who had a knife pressed against his neck and was threatening to kill himself, the Police Ombudsman has found.

Police used the weapon when they saw that the man was pushing the knife against neck, close to his jugular vein, during the incident in Co. Fermanagh in December 2012.

The use of the Taser, as with all discharges of firearms by police in Northern Ireland, was referred by police to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.

Enquiries by Police Ombudsman investigators established that police had received a 999 call reporting that a man was in the bedroom of his home, armed with a knife and threatening to kill himself.

Officers from a police Armed Support Unit arrived to find the man with a knife held to his throat. The officers attempted to persuade him to place the knife on the floor.

Despite the attempts of officers to resolve the situation, the man closed his eyes and began to push the knife into his throat.

Realising that the knife was positioned close to the man’s jugular vein, an officer shouted “Taser, Taser, Taser” and discharged the weapon, allowing officers to disarm him.

The man was given first aid at the scene before being taken to the Southwest Acute Hospital in Enniskillen for further treatment.

During their investigation, Police Ombudsman investigators obtained accounts from all available witnesses, including the man, his mother, and the officers involved. The accounts were all consistent with each other.

Police training records and other records confirmed that the officer who used Taser had been properly trained and authorised to do so.

Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of Taser had been justified and proportionate given the serious and immediate threat posed to life during the incident.

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