Published Date: Nov 2014
Police were justified in using Taser after receiving a call that a man had threatened a neighbour and was using a hatchet to chop up items in his garden, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has concluded.
Officers said that when they arrived to deal with the incident, which happened in Enniskillen in August 2013, the man asked them to shoot him.
In line with standard protocol for incidents involving the discharge of a firearm by a police officer, the incident was referred by the Chief Constable to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.
In statements provided to the investigation, police officers said that they had identified the man and established that there was reason to fear that he might injure himself or others.
Armed response officers were sent to the scene, and a police Firearms Incident Manager recommended that Taser should be used if the man tried to go back into his house, for fear that he might injure himself when out of view.
The officers stated that when the man went into the house and refused to show his hands to police, or to stop moving down the hallway of the property, an officer discharged his Taser. The barbs discharged by the weapon struck him on the back and he fell to the floor.
However, officers recalled that he continued to struggle and kick out at police. Tools and other weapons which could be potentially used as weapons were also lying nearby.
The officer who had fired the Taser said that, given the ongoing threat posed to the man and police, he discharged another cycle of electrical current from the weapon. This then allowed police to restrain the man, who was given first aid before being taken into custody at Enniskillen police station, where he seen by a doctor.
The Taser used during the incident was examined by Police Ombudsman investigators. Information recorded in the weapon’s electronic memory corroborated police accounts of the way in which it had been used. It indicated that there had been an initial discharge lasting for five seconds, followed by a break of four seconds, and then a further discharge lasting three seconds.
Enquiries also established that the officer had been trained in the use of Taser and authorised to use the weapon.
Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that its use had been “lawful, proportionate and necessary.”