Investigation rejects claim that officer’s “karate chop” caused woman to break ribs

Published Date: Feb 2017

A Police Ombudsman investigation has cleared a police officer of causing a woman to break two ribs by “karate chopping” her over a rocking chair.

Police had been called to a reported domestic incident at the woman’s house in Co. Derry/Londonderry in May last year.

She told a Police Ombudsman investigator that she went to assist her son who had became upset after being advised he was to be arrested.

However, she said an officer struck her on the upper part of her chest with “what I would describe as a karate chop”, causing her to fall back over a rocking chair, breaking two ribs.

The woman provided a photograph of her injuries and reported that she had gone to hospital and been given painkillers.

A Police Ombudsman investigator identified the officers who had been at the house. They all denied that they or any of their colleagues had struck the woman.

One said the woman had been slurring her speech and unsteady on her feet during the incident.

He said he had been dealing with the woman’s son when he heard a crash from another room, after which the woman entered the room and tried to intervene in her son’s arrest.

Officer heard a crash from the other room before woman tried to intervene in her son's arrest.

As he was leaving the room he saw a chair lying on the ground and he believed the noise he had heard had been the chair hitting the ground.

He added that the woman had been extremely abusive and had twice refused medical assistance.

Another officer said that the woman had at one stage thrown herself on a bed.

The investigator also considered a recording of a telephone call made to the Police Ombudsman’s Office during the incident, which was recorded on an answering machine. The call picked up background voices, but provided no evidence in support of the woman’s allegations.

In addition, a report from the local hospital showed that the woman had reported an injury but had not stayed for treatment.

Several months later, the woman made an additional allegation that police had “created” a charge of obstruction against her after learning that she had made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

However, enquiries showed that the woman had been cautioned for obstruction on the night of the incident.

A file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service, which directed that none of the officers should be prosecuted. The Police Ombudsman investigator also concluded that there were no grounds for any disciplinary action.

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