Officer accused of assault at hostel has complaint dismissed

Published Date: 12.02.2019

A police officer accused of assaulting a man outside a hostel in Belfast has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.
The officer, who had been attending the hostel in Belfast city centre with a colleague on an unrelated matter, had been accused by the man of swiping the feet from under him and knocking him to the ground.
The man also said that during the alleged assault in May last year, the officer had lifted him up by the handcuffs, before taking him to the ground again where he forcibly held him down by pressing his knee into his temple.
He added that after being placed in a cell van to be taken to the police station the same officer held his head to the floor once again.
As part of their investigations Police Ombudsman staff reviewed CCTV footage of the area which covered the entirety of the incident outside the hostel. Investigators also took a statement from a staff member who had witnessed the event before formally interviewing the officer in question.
A review of the CCTV footage highlighted several inconsistencies in the account given by the complainant who said he had been arrested by uniformed officers and placed in a cell van. The footage showed that the arresting officers were in plain clothes and he had been placed in a Land Rover.
The footage also showed that the man had been acting aggressively and may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol as he was unsteady on his feet and at one stage had walked into the road causing passing vehicles to brake.
A hostel staff member who witnessed the incident said the man had been refused entry but had then tried to push past the two officers who had been dealing with a separate issue. He said that the man had been aggressive and that a struggle had ensued when the officers went to arrest him but he did not believe that excessive force had been used.
During formal interview with Police Ombudsman staff the police officer denied assaulting the man. He said that as the man had been acting aggressively he had held his arms to prevent an assault. He was then taken to the ground where he was handcuffed and restrained until other officers arrived. He added that due to the man’s continued aggression, leg restraints were applied before he was placed in the police Land Rover.
As the allegation of assault is a criminal allegation, a file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service who directed no prosecution.
A review of the evidence showed no misconduct on the part of the officer who had fully justified his use of force and whose account had been corroborated by CCTV footage.

The case was subsequently closed.
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