Police cleared of deliberately hurting man

Published Date: Jan 2020

A Police Ombudsman investigation has found no evidence that police treated a man they had arrested “like a lesser person” and deliberately inflicted pain on him.

The man claimed that an officer grabbed him by the shoulder after a verbal disagreement, despite having been told that his shoulder was painful from an earlier injury.

He also accused police of inflicting pain by fitting handcuffs behind his back, rather than to his front.

The incident happened in a Co. Antrim village in March last year after police responded to a report that the man had caused damage to a relative’s house. They found him to be in an agitated state and after restraining him, placed him into the back of a police Land Rover and took him to hospital for assessment.

A Police Ombudsman investigator obtained accounts from the officers involved, and also secured footage of the incident recorded by two police officers using Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras.

Video did not show man to be in discomfort.
The investigator noted that the footage did not appear to show the complainant to be in any discomfort, and that he made no comment about the handcuffs causing him pain.

She also noted that police policy allows for handcuffs to be fitted to the rear in order to minimise risk in situations where people’s behaviour has been volatile.

The BWV footage also showed that when an officer placed a hand on the man’s shoulder he advised that it was to stop the man falling forward while the police vehicle was turning a corner.

This happened just after the complainant’s phone, which had been placed in an officer’s cap for safekeeping, had slid onto the floor of the Land Rover as it went round a bend.

The man later accused officers of mishandling the phone, leading to its screen being cracked when it fell.

However, the Police Ombudsman investigator noted that the floor of the vehicle was carpeted, and that there was no evidence that the screen had not been cracked before it was given to police.

She also found that the footage showed the officers to have treated the man with respect.

The investigator concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct by any of the officers involved, and did not uphold the complaint.
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