Taser use justified against man who threatened to kill officers

Published Date: 06.05.2015

The Police Ombudsman has concluded that police were justified in using Taser against a man under the influence of drink and drugs who threatened to kill officers in east Belfast in August 2012.

Police received a 999 call on the morning of 5 August 2012 that a man with a hammer had been assaulting people in the street.

Officers went to the scene and spoke to members of the public who told them that as well as the hammer, the man had a knife and might also have a crossbow.

A police Armed Response Unit was tasked to deal with the situation and on arrival discovered that the man had gone into a house. As officers approached the open door of the property, the man appeared in the doorway with the hammer in his hand.

When ordered to put his hands up and step out of the house, the man threw the hammer to the ground, but continued to approach the officers. They said he was aggressive, failed to comply with warnings, then threatened to kill police and reached into his pocket.

Taser was then used against him, causing him to fall to the ground and allowing officers to restrain him. He was then taken into custody at Grosvenor Road police station, where he was recorded as being under the influence of drink and drugs.

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

Accounts of what had happened were obtained from all available witnesses, including the officers who had been involved and members of the public, who confirmed that the man had been assaulting people with a hammer.

The witnesses were all consistent in their description of the course of events.

Enquiries also showed that the officer who used Taser was properly trained and authorised to do so.

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

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