Taser use justified after officers attacked with iron bar and knife

Published Date: 06.05.2015

The Police Ombudsman has concluded that police were justified in using Taser after officers were attacked by a group of youths armed with iron bars and a knife.

The incident happened in north Belfast on 14 May 2013 after police responded to a report that a group of five youths had damaged a car with a shopping trolley.

After reporting the damage, the car owner contacted police again to report that he had followed the youths to a flat.

Police went to the flat but were refused entry and officers reported that an iron bar was brandished at them through a letter box.

A police Armed Response Unit was tasked and forced entry to the flat.  Officers told Police Ombudsman investigators that they were then attacked by a group of five youths, some of whom had iron bars and another who had a three inch knife.

When interviewed, the officer who fired the Taser said he only did so after warning one of the youths three times to show his hands and get on his knees.

He said the youth ignored these commands and instead moved towards him and threw a punch at his head. He added that he saw an object in the man’s left hand, and believing this was a weapon, discharged the Taser.

The man was detained and taken to Musgrave Custody Suite where he was examined by a police doctor. The four other males were detained and a number of weapons, including a knife, were recovered from the scene.

All discharges of police firearms, including Taser, are referred by police to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for independent investigation.

Investigators issued an appeal for witnesses, although none of those identified had seen the Taser discharge.

All of the officers involved were interviewed, the scene was photographed, and police documentation examined.

Police logs recorded that Armed Response officers arrived at the scene within 10 minutes of being tasked and that after entering the flat, officers were threatened with a knife. Taser was used about 40 minutes after the arrival of armed officers.

Police records confirmed that the officer who used the weapon was trained and authorised to do so.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of Taser had been “lawful, proportionate and necessary” in the circumstances.


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