Use of CS spray against a 15-year-old in Portstewart was “necessary and justified”

The Police Ombudsman has found that a police officer was justified in using CS Spray against a 15-year-old who threatened him with a hammer during an incident in Portstewart in May 2016.

Police Ombudsman investigators established that police had received a call in the early hours of the morning from a woman who reported that her son had become violent and was causing damage to their house.

Officers stated that they arrived at the house to find the boy in the kitchen with a hammer in his right hand.

Officers said he threatened to kill an officer and was warned that CS Spray would be used if he did not set down the hammer.

When he refused, an officer directed a burst of CS Spray at the boy’s chest. The officer said the spray was not immediately effective, so he sprayed a second burst which resulted in the boy placing the hammer on the floor.

Officers then moved in and restrained him as he continued to struggle and kick out. Handcuffs and leg restraints were applied, and he was then arrested and taken into police custody.

Enquiries by a Police Ombudsman investigator found that the officer who used CS Spray had been properly trained in its use and was authorised to carry the weapon at the time of the incident.

Statements were obtained from the boy and his mother, neither of whom expressed any concerns about police actions.

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

The incident was referred by the PSNI to the Police Ombudsman in line with an agreement that any use of CS Spray by police officers against juveniles should be the subject of independent investigation.


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