The Police Ombudsman has found that police were justified in using Taser against a man who had two knives and was acting aggressively in Derry/Londonderry in August 2011.
The incident happened at the junction of Lonemore Road and Eastway at around 5am on 7 August 2011.
Two police armed response units were sent to the area after receiving calls from members of the public concerned by the man’s behaviour.
One of those who called police later told Police Ombudsman investigators that the man had knives and was acting aggressively and shouting. A second caller reported that the man was armed with what he believed to be garden shears.
Investigators also obtained statements from police officers involved in the incident. The officer who discharged his Taser reported that he shouted “Armed police” from inside the police vehicle as they drew close to the man.
The officer then got out of the car, approached the man and ordered him to drop the knives. He said the man responded by quickly raising the knives and stepping towards him, leading him to fear he was going to be stabbed.
The officer then discharged his Taser, striking the man and causing him to lose his grip on the knives. Two other officers then restrained and arrested him.
The man was given first aid and taken to Altnagelvin Hospital, before being placed in police custody at Strand Road police station.
In line with standard procedure, the police informed the Police Ombudsman’s Duty Deputy Senior Investigating Officer about the use of Taser. Given concerns about the potential for disorder in the area, the police were requested to recover as much evidential material as possible before leaving the scene. The used Taser cartridge, barbs and wire were retained by police.
Investigators tried to obtain an account of the incident from the man who had been Tasered, but he failed to co-operate with the Office’s enquiries.
Statements were obtained from officers who had been at the scene, and these corroborated the account provided by the officer who discharged the Taser.
Notes taken by a doctor who examined the man after his arrest were also obtained, and these showed that the man had sustained a knife wound to his abdomen.
Analysis of police training records also showed that the Officer who fired the weapon had been properly trained in its use and was authorised to carry it at the time.
Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire concluded that officers had given the man an opportunity to drop the knives before using the Taser.
Having considered the evidence, Dr Maguire concluded that the use of the weapon was “justified, necessary and proportionate” given the risks posed by the man to officers, members of the pubic in the area, and to himself.