Taser use justified against man with knife held against throat in west Belfast

Published Date: 06.05.2015

Police were justified in using Taser after a man made threats with a bread knife, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has found.

The man had threatened a member of staff to gain entry to his flat in west Belfast to collect some personal belongings. The incident happened on 23 January 2013.

Police were called and arrived to find that the man had barricaded himself in the flat. Officers also noted a smell of flammable liquid.

They removed the barricade and saw that the man had a knife pressed against his throat. Taser was then used to allow officers to restrain him. He was then treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital.

As with all firearms discharges by police officers in Northern Ireland, the incident was referred by police to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for independent investigation.

Police Ombudsman investigators spoke to the officers involved, as well as the man who had been threatened and other local residents. Their accounts of what had happened were consistent.

Police documents and training records were examined, and these confirmed that the officer who used Taser was properly trained and authorised to do so.

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

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