PSNI use of Taser gun on Derry man ‘justified’

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A police officer who feared he would be stabbed was justified in using a Taser gun on a Derry man, the Police Ombudsman has found.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire concluded that officers had given the 18 year-old man an opportunity to drop the knives before using a Taser on him at the junction of Lonemoor Road and Eastway at around 5am on August 7, 2011.

Dr Maguire concluded that the use of the weapon was “justified, necessary and proportionate” given the risks posed by the man to officers, members of the public in the area, and to himself.

The incident happened when two police armed response units responded to calls from members of the public. One of those who called police later told Police Ombudsman investigators that the man had knives and was acting aggressively and shouting. A second caller reported that the man was armed with what he believed to be garden shears.

The officer who discharged his Taser reported that he shouted “armed police” as his vehicle drew close to the man.

He then approached the man and ordered him to drop the knives. He said the man quickly raised the knives and stepped towards him, leading him to fear he was going to be stabbed. The officer then discharged his Taser, striking the man and causing him to lose his grip on the knives. Two other officers then restrained and arrested him. The man was given first-aid and taken to Altnagelvin Hospital where it was noted that he sustained a knife wound to his abdomen.

Investigators tried to obtain an account of the incident from the man who had been Tasered, but he failed to co-operate with the Office’s enquiries.