Four police officers have been disciplined for the “oppressive way” they dealt with two brothers they wrongly suspected of theft – and for failing to report an abusive remark made by an officer.
The officer was recorded on a mobile phone making an abusive and insulting remark to one of the men, who they suspected of having left a Chinese takeaway without paying.
He later denied making the comment, and three other officers identified as having been in the same room at the time, denied having heard it.
However, when the audio recording was played back, the officer who made the remark accepted that it was him, but said he had no memory of saying it.
The incident happened in County Armagh last June at the home of the men suspected of taking the food.
They were known to police, and seven officers went to the address given concerns that the situation might become violent.
The three officers who denied having heard the remark said they were dealing with the other brother at the time, and would have reported the use of such language to a supervisor if they had been aware of it.
None of the officers recorded the comment in their notebooks.
The Police Ombudsman investigator noted, however: “Either they heard the remark and failed to record it, or they failed to pay sufficient attention to a heated discussion in the same room which had the potential to jeopardise safety.”
All three have since been disciplined, as well as the officer who made the comment.
When the two brothers agreed to accompany police to the Chinese takeaway, the owner confirmed that they had not been the people who had stolen the food.