Published Date: 03.08.2006
An investigation by the Police Ombudsman has concluded that a police officer was right to use CS Spray against a man who was threatening to attack him in Ballymena on 13 November 2004.
The man came to the attention of police at about 1.10am in the Mill Street area of the town when he was observed leaving a bar "in a highly agitated state." He was approached by police after he was seen punching the shutters of a shop five times. His manner was aggressive and he struggled to break free from his father, who was trying to restrain him.
An officer warned him about his behaviour and advised him to go home with his father, which he initially agreed to do. However, when he again broke free and approached the police, an officer drew his CS spray and warned him that it would be used if his behaviour did not improve. The man replied by shouting: "Come on you and me."
A further warning was given and the man appeared to return to his father although remaining in "a very volatile and agitated state." Once again, however, he broke free from his father and ran towards the police, at which point the officer gave another verbal warning before spraying the man with CS Spray.
Despite being sprayed, the man continued to struggle with police officers as they tried to arrest him. He was taken to the side of the road to be handcuffed at which point a number of people intervened and attempted to free him. Police managed to control the situation as officers explained the effects of CS Spray. He was then taken to the local police station.
The man subsequently made a complaint about the incident, stating that officers had grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and stating that he had been going to get his girlfriend when he was sprayed. The complaint was subsequently withdrawn when it became clear that there were inconsistencies between his account and that of a police doctor.
After reviewing the evidence relating to the case the Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O'Loan, concluded that the use of CS Spray was justified. She said its use was a proportionate reaction to the threat posed to officers and others by the man's behaviour.
The Police Ombudsman noted that her office had received full co-operation from the police during her investigation.