Published Date: 13.11.2006
The Police Ombudsman has said a police officer was right to have used CS Spray on a man during a Christmas Eve fight outside the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.
For a limited period following the introduction of CS Spray, the Police Ombudsman's Office was asked to investigate all uses of the device by officers. One such incident began in the early hours of December 24 2004 when a large number of people who had been attending the Odyssey complex spilled out onto the pavement.
Twenty-five police officers had been tasked to cover the area during what was expected to be a busy night. Video footage seized by Police Ombudsman investigators shows that a fight broke out and quickly escalated, with more than eight people involved.
The Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O'Loan, said the police were soon faced with a violent situation which they feared could quickly escalate. At one stage a police officer, who was on his own, saw a man who had been separated from the fight. The officer warned him to calm down or he would use his CS Spray, but the man continued to shout and swear and tried to rejoin the fight. At that stage the officer used his spray on the man.
The Police Ombudsman concluded that the officer was right to use the spray: "The violent nature of the disorder that night is captured on CCTV. Police initially found themselves outnumbered and individual officers were faced with violent situations.
Available evidence suggests that the officer discharged his spray in an attempt to prevent the man from assaulting other members of the public. The man was acting in a disorderly and aggressive manner and ignored warnings to moderate his behaviour. The possibility existed that had police not been present and acted as swiftly as they did, a far more serious situation could have developed," she said.