Officers cleared of dragging woman from her car and assaulting her

Published Date: 04.02.2020

A Police Ombudsman investigation has found no evidence to support a woman’s allegation that she was dragged from her car and assaulted by police during an incident in Magherafelt in January last year.

Police Body Worn Video of the incident, examined by a Police Ombudsman investigator, showed that officers intervened only after the woman grabbed a petrol can and threatened to blow herself up.

The woman complained that police had refused to explain why they wanted her car keys before an officer forced open her driver’s side window, pushed her head against the steering wheel and removed the keys from the ignition.

She said she was then dragged from the vehicle by her legs and head, thrown to the ground causing her knees to bleed, and elbowed in the face by an officer when she got back up.

The woman also accused officers of using foul language and smirking at her, and claimed that they refused to tell her why they were taking her vehicle.

The incident happened after police identified the car as having been reported stolen. When a Police Ombudsman investigator reviewed Body Worn Video evidence, it showed that police had explained this to the woman from the outset.

The woman was also seen in the video handing her car keys to police “without issue” when asked, and was not dragged from the vehicle as alleged.

However, the footage also showed that the woman’s demeanour quickly changed, as she became verbally abusive and threatened to blow herself up before climbing into the back of the car.

An officer then opened the rear door of the car to find the woman with a petrol can in her hand. He grabbed her wrist and forced her to let go of it.

The Police Ombudsman investigator found that the officer’s use of force had been justified in the circumstances.

There was no evidence that the woman had sustained any injuries to her face or knees, nor that any officer had used foul language or smirked at her.

The Police Ombudsman did not uphold the complaint.
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