Use of TASER justified during Cookstown knife incident

Published Date: Jan 2017

A Police Ombudsman investigation has concluded that police were justified in using a TASER stun gun against a man to prevent him causing self-harm with a knife during an incident in Cookstown in October 2014.

The weapon was used by a member of an armed police unit after a doctor reported that the man appeared to have suffered a psychotic episode and had armed himself with a knife.

The doctor said he had received a call from the man’s mother, who reported that she and the rest of her family had locked themselves in a room for their own safety.

Police arrived to find the family, which included young children, locked in the living room of the house and the man with the knife in the kitchen.

Officers said the man began to move towards them, holding the knife with the blade pointing at them.

Officers reported that he began to move towards them, holding the knife with the blade pointing in their direction.

He ignored their instructions to drop the weapon and continued to approach, before turning the knife around so that the blade faced himself.

Fearing that he was about to self-harm, an officer then discharged TASER, causing the man to fall to the ground and drop the knife. He was then restrained and given first aid before being arrested and taken into police custody.

The man’s parents later said they had no issues with the way police had dealt with the incident, and stated that their son had raised no concerns about police actions.

The officer who used the TASER was found to have been properly trained and authorised to use the weapon.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the officer had acted “in the lawful execution of his duty” in order to prevent the man harming himself or anyone else.

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