Man’s claims of police assault and abuse rejected

Published Date: Nov 2016

The Police Ombudsman has dismissed a complaint that a man was assaulted and verbally abused by police, after his account was contradicted by a number of witnesses.

The man claimed to have been held in a “bear hug” by one officer, while another punched him in the face, kneed him in the groin and elbowed him in the arm.

He also claimed to have been thrown into a police car, and to have been subjected to a stream of abuse by an officer while en route to the police station.

The man’s claims were supported by a friend who said he saw him being punched and elbowed in the face.

Witness said police were restraining man, rather than attacking him.

However, his account of the incident – which happened in north Belfast last October - was contradicted by other witnesses. One, identified through enquiries in the area, said the officers had not struck the man but appeared to have been restraining him to prevent him getting away.

Another witness said she had not heard officers being abusive, and said the man had been placed in the police car, rather than having been thrown into it as he claimed.

When interviewed, the officers who dealt with the incident said they had used minimal force to prevent the man from running away, and also to place him in handcuffs to prevent him attacking them.

Police records also showed that the man made no mention of having been assaulted to a police doctor who examined him in custody. In addition, the doctor made no reference to any injuries in his report.

The Police Ombudsman investigator noted that police may use reasonable force while making an arrest, and concluded that the force used during the incident had been “necessary and proportionate.

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