Use of CS Spray justified after juvenile attacked car and threatened officers

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has concluded that a police officer was justified in using CS Spray against a 16-year-old boy who threatened to attack police in Carrickfergus.

The spray was used when the youth threatened to assault officers who apprehended him after he kicked a car. It happened in June 2015.

The Chief Constable referred the incident to the Police Ombudsman, in line with an agreement that any use of CS Spray against juveniles should be the subject of independent investigation.

Police had initially responded to reports that a crowd of youths were fighting. However, when officers arrived at the scene, they said they saw the boy, who was bleeding from the mouth, forcing a motorist to stop his car.

Officers said the boy then pulled at one of the car’s door handles and kicked the door as the driver drove away.

He then ran off, and officers said they gave chase along several streets before he finally stopped running. However, they stated that he ignored orders to get down on the ground and instead threatened to attack them.

An officer said he warned that CS Spray would be used, and discharged the spray when the warning was ignored.  

He said that the youth again ran off but was found a short distance away hiding under a car. He was reported to have kicked out and spat at officers as they tried to bring him out from under the vehicle.

When another warning about the use of CS Spray was ignored, the same officer discharged a second burst of the spray. This then allowed officers to restrain the boy, who continued to struggle and was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints before being taken into police custody.

A Police Ombudsman investigator spoke to the boy‘s mother, who did not make a complaint about the actions of police.

Training records also confirmed that the officer who used CS Spray was properly trained and authorised to use it.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of CS Spray had been lawful and proportionate in the circumstances, and was in compliance with relevant police guidelines.
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