Police right to use Taser as man threatens suicide in Ballymena

Published Date: 31.07.2014

Police were justified in using Taser against a man who had barricaded himself in a room and was threatening to kill himself, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman has concluded.

The incident happened in Ballymena on 15 June 2013, after the man had called 999 and reported that he had a knife to his throat.

Police went to the scene and tried to negotiate with him, and a specialist Armed Response Unit was tasked.

Officers told Police Ombudsman investigators that the man, who had knives and was bleeding, refused to hand himself over and became increasingly agitated.

Having decided immediate intervention was necessary to prevent further injury, police forced their way into the room via a door and window. Officers said the man had two knives, one of which he raised as they entered the room.

Officers scrambled to get into the room past the items barricaded behind the door.

An officer then fired his Taser, and later told Police Ombudsman investigators that he had done so  as he believed there to have been an immediate threat to the man’s life. The man fell to the ground, and officers scrambled to get into the room past the items barricaded behind the door.

As this was happening, the man appeared to reach towards the knife, and a second shorter charge was discharged from the Taser. The man was then restrained and taken to Antrim Area Hospital.

A subsequent examination of the Taser, supervised by a Police Ombudsman investigator, confirmed that the weapon had discharged an initial five second charge, followed by a one second break, and then a further two second cycle.

The officer who fired the weapon was found to have been appropriately trained and authorised to carry and use the weapon. Each of the officers who had been at the scene provided corroborating accounts of what had happened.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of the weapon had been lawful, proportionate and necessary, and in compliance with all relevant police guidelines.


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