Officer was right to use CS Spray during Coleraine incident

Published Date: 08.11.2006

The Police Ombudsman's Office has said a police officer was right to discharge CS Spray into the face of a man he had just arrested on the Ballycastle Road, near Coleraine in 2004.

For a limited period following the introduction of CS Spray, the Chief Constable asked the Police Ombudsmans Office to investigate all instances when the spray was used. Those findings have since been fed back to the PSNI.

The incident in question happened on Saturday the 23rd of October 2004 when two officers from the Motor Cycle Unit, Portrush, were on patrol in the Coleraine area. Whilst on the Ballycastle Road near the junction with Lisnablagh Road, they stopped a Vauxhall Corsa car which had a defective brake light.

The officers then asked the driver of the car to take a breath test, which he failed. When they arrested him on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol, the driver immediately became agitated and attempted to leave the scene. The officers tried to restrain the man, who became increasingly abusive and violent.

A struggle then took place outside the car when the two officers attempted to put handcuffs on the man. The Constable repeatedly asked him to calm down but the man continued to struggle and act in a violent manner.

One of the Constables took hold of the man's right arm but he freed it and raised it to shoulder level while clenching his fist. He shouted at the two officers and offered to fight them. The Constable believed at this point that the man was going to punch him.Following a warning that he was going to use CS Spray, one of the officers then discharged it at the man.

Several attempts were made by the investigators from the Office of the Police Ombudsman to interview the man, but these proved to be unsuccessful. Letters were sent to him, asking for his assistance in the investigation, but no response was forthcoming.

The Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala OLoan said the police officer who used the CS Spray did so properly: "The officer was faced with an aggressive male who was refusing to co-operate with police requests and who appeared to be preparing to strike one of them. He was justified in using force in these circumstances, in order to prevent an assault on a police officer", she said.

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