Police right to use Taser after man cuts wrists with a broken bottle

Published Date: 10.09.2015

A Police Ombudsman investigation has found that police were justified in using Taser after a man began to cut his wrists with a broken bottle.

The incident happened in Newtownabbey on 21 March 2015. Police were responding to a call from a man who reported that his son had taken drink and drugs and was “going mad” in his house.

Officers told Police Ombudsman investigators that the man had barricaded himself in a bedroom, and had broken bottles and pieces of mirror lying on the floor around him. He appeared to have used these to inflict injuries to his wrists.

The first officer on the scene said the man refused to leave the room, and said he would have to be shot or Tasered instead. The officer said the man then grabbed a hurley stick, threatened her and demanded a cigarette, which she provided.

The officer who discharged the Taser said the man was highly agitated, appeared to be heavily intoxicated and was acting aggressively with the hurley stick.

He said that while still holding the hurley stick, the man bent down and picked up a piece of broken bottle and began to cut his wrists, which had already been bleeding.

The officer said he feared that if he failed to take immediate action, the man would be at risk of serious injury or death.  He shouted “Taser, Taser” before discharging the weapon.

A colleague then forced his way into the bedroom and restrained the man, who was given first aid until the arrival of paramedics.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire concluded that the use of Taser was lawful and justified and represented the least forceful option available to officers in the circumstances.

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