The Police Ombudsman has found that police were justified in using a Taser against a dog which bit a police officer’s hands, causing injuries which required plastic surgery.
The officer was attacked as she tried to assist a member of the public who had been bitten by the dog after collapsing in his home.
It happened in the Crumlin Road area of Belfast on 1 February 2012.
The incident began shortly after 1am when a police patrol, which had arrested a driver on suspicion of drink driving, was approached by a member of the public who told them that his dog had been attacked by a Rottweiler.
Another man then spoke to officers and asked that they come to help his friend, who had collapsed in his house.
As the officers went to the house a Rottweiler dog entered the property and sat on top of the man, who was lying in the hallway. The dog then bit the man on the hand, causing puncture wounds. A police officer intervened and dragged the animal out of the hallway.
When a second officer went to assist, the dog bit her on both hands, causing puncture wounds to one hand, and more serious injuries to the other.
Another officer then discharged his Taser in a bid to prevent further attacks by the animal. A first discharge failed to subdue it, but after being struck by a second discharge it ran off down the street and into a nearby alley where it was secured by police.
The officer who was injured was subsequently taken to the Mater Hospital for treatment. The dog was later humanely destroyed by Belfast City Council.
All discharges of police firearms are referred to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation. Police Ombudsman investigators obtained accounts from police and civilian witnesses, and examined police documentation as well as the electronic memory of the Taser weapon.
All evidence corroborated police accounts of the incident. The officer who discharged the Taser was also found to be properly trained and authorised to use the weapon.
The officer who sustained injuries to her hand returned to duty within four weeks.
The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of Taser was proportionate and justified, given the threat posed by the dog, and praised the professional way in which officers had dealt with the incident.