Airport knife incident: police use of Taser was “justified and proportionate” says Police Ombudsman

Published Date: 15.03.2016

The Police Ombudsman has concluded that police were justified in using Taser against a man acting irrationally with a knife at the perimeter fence of Belfast City Airport last June.

The incident happened on 13 June 2015, after police were contacted by security staff at the airport.

An officer told Police Ombudsman investigators that he asked the man to drop the knife on several occasions, but he responded in an irrational way before stating that he would not put down the knife until he had used it.

The officer said he judged the threat level to be high and discharged his Taser, which temporarily incapacitated the man. However, he managed to retain his grip on the knife and remain standing while holding onto the fence.

Two officers then moved in and restrained and disarmed him, before handcuffs were applied and he was taken into custody.

He was later examined by a police doctor, who recorded that the man appeared to be suffering from a form of psychosis.

Police Ombudsman investigators examined police documentation and radio transmissions. They also obtained relevant CCTV footage from the airport, as well as statements from police officers and airport security staff. The evidence corroborated police accounts of the incident.

The officer who discharged the Taser was also found to have been properly trained and authorised to use the weapon.

Police Ombudsman, Dr  Michael Maguire, concluded that the  officer had acted in “the lawful execution of his duty” to prevent harm to the man and others who had been present.

He noted that the man had been given a number of opportunities to drop the knife, and concluded that the use of Taser had been “lawful, proportionate and necessary.”

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