Taser use justified as man threatens to cut his throat during Dundonald incident

Published Date: 06.05.2015

The Police Ombudsman has concluded that police were justified in using Taser against a man who had a knife against his throat and was threatening to kill himself.

The incident happened in the Ballybeen Estate in Dundonald at about 11.30pm on 3 October 2013.

Police had been called by a woman who reported that her husband was drunk, had a knife and was going to kill himself.

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

The officers who were first to arrive at the scene told investigators that the man had a knife and appeared to be distressed. He was inside a house and was on the phone to someone.

The officers tried to negotiate with him, asking him to come out of the house and put the knife down. They said he opened the door slightly, but quickly slammed it shut again.

Armed police were tasked to assist, and on arrival they noted that the man, who could be seen through frosted glass in the front door, was becoming very aggressive, had a knife to his throat and was shouting at police to back off.

Officers continued to ask him to come out of the house and he again opened the door slightly, only to slam it shut again.

The officers recalled that shortly after 11.30pm, the man did finally come out of the house, but had the knife pointed into his throat and was threatening to stab himself. He was reported have taken a deep breath and said “that’s it” at which point an officer discharged the Taser.

The discharge allowed police to restrain and disarm him, before he was taken to the nearby Ulster Hospital for treatment.

 A statement was taken from the man’s mother, which corroborated police accounts of the incident, although she had not seen the actual use of the Taser.

Police records confirmed that the use of the weapon had been properly authorised, and that the officer who used it was properly trained to do so.

Examination of the weapon’s electronic memory showed that it had been used for an initial five second burst, followed by a further two second cycle.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of Taser had been lawful and proportionate, and made no disciplinary recommendations against any officer involved in the incident.

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