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Taser Use Was Justified During Northern Ireland Incidents

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PSNI taser
PSNI taser
BT Coleraine

The Police Ombudsman has found that police were justified in using TASER stun guns during four incidents at Cookstown, Derry/Londonderry, Lisburn and in north Down.

Dr Michael Maguire found that in each case the weapon had been used appropriately to prevent people causing harm to either themselves or others.

The first happened in Cookstown in October 2014 when Taser was used against a man whose family had locked themselves in the living room of their home for their own safety. Officers reported that TASER was used when he appeared to be about to stab himself.

Police used TASER in Lisburn in January 2015 against a man who was reported to have stabbed a woman. Officers said the man had a knife in each hand and was standing behind another woman who was trying to calm him down.

They said it was only when the woman stepped to one side that they were able to use TASER, which allowed them to restrain and arrest him.

The third incident happened in north Down in February 2015. TASER was used against a man who had threatened a male member of his family with a knife and had trapped his mother in the kitchen.

The man was reported to have struggled with officers while holding a knife to his neck, and three TASER discharges failed to properly connect. An officer then used a TASER in “drive stun” mode, pressing it directly against the subject, which then allowed his colleagues to restrain him.

In March 2015 police in Derry/Londonderry used TASER against a man who reacted violently when officers went to arrest him in connection with a reported offence. Officers said he held a knife to his throat and struck furniture with an iron bar during the incident.

He also had a history of self harming, violence and access to firearms. Officers said TASER was used after the man intimated that he had a concealed firearm. They reported that he had kicked out at an officer’s shield, before reaching to the rear of his waistband as if reaching for a weapon.

Dr Maguire found that in each instance, TASER had been lawful, justified and proportionate given the volatile and unpredictable situations officers had faced.

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