Police cleared of giving woman black eye outside nightclub

Published Date: Jan 2019

A Police Ombudsman investigation has cleared police of giving a woman a black eye and using excessive force during an incident outside a Belfast nightclub.

The woman said she was trying to explain to the officers why she had been asked to leave the nightclub when she was handcuffed and thrown to the ground.

The incident happened last July after nightclub staff asked police for help in removing her from the premises.

The woman also alleged that police were abusive and laughed at her as she was being taken to a police station, and refused her requests to contact her solicitor or phone her daughter while she was in custody.

Police Ombudsman investigators interviewed the officers involved, and examined video footage from the nightclub, from on-street CCTV cameras and from body worn video cameras activated by police during the incident.

They also viewed footage recorded in the custody suite at Musgrave police station.

The officers said the woman was intoxicated and verbally abusive, and ignored several requests to calm down before attempting to walk off. They said she struggled and hit out as they tried to restrain her, and was taken to the ground so that handcuffs could be applied.

Woman was restrained after attempting to walk away from police.
CCTV footage from the nightclub showed the woman talking to a number of officers before raising both arms and attempting to walk off, at which stage she was restrained. 

Body worn police footage also captured officers telling her repeatedly to stop swearing, and an officer accusing her of biting him. At one stage the woman says “you are hurting my head”, to which an officer replies: “I’m holding your head to stop it hitting off the ground.”

None of the officers noticed any signs of the woman having suffered a black eye. Records of an examination by a doctor in police custody noted an area of tenderness to the woman’s left cheek, redness to her wrists and some bruising to her arms.

The officers who had been in the cell van as she was being taken to custody all denied having been abusive to her.

CCTV footage from police custody also showed that the woman had made a request to contact her daughter, but was unable to give officers her number or an alternative means of contacting her.

Police records also indicated that a voice message had been left for her solicitor in the early hours of the morning, and enquiries confirmed that a solicitor called back later that morning.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that there was no grounds for action against any officer over their handling of the incident.

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