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Ombudsman rules officers ‘justified’ in using TASER in four separate incidents

The Police Ombudsman has found officers were justified in using a TASER stun gun during an incident in Portadown.

It was one of four incidents – including others in Belfast and Antrim – which Dr Michael Maguire had investigated and ruled the actions of the PSNI in each had been acceptable.

In August 2015, police in Portadown had used a TASER while responding to a call from an “upset and incoherent” man, who reported that he was “swinging a knife”.

They found him in his living room amid damaged furniture, holding a knife and threatening to stab himself.

In the same month, a TASER was used during an incident in Belfast in which a man had a Samurai sword in the city centre.

It had been concealed in a trouser leg, and he ran off and was chased by an officer in August 2015.

He later complained that he had stopped and given himself up before TASER was used against him.

However, Dr Maguire found that the officer’s actions were justified given that he was on his own in a dimly-lit narrow street and was fearful that footsteps he had heard behind him during the chase might have been accomplices of the suspect.

In addition, the officer reported that he had not been sure whether the man was stopping to give himself up, to catch his breath before running off again, or to prepare for an attack.

In November 2015, officers in Belfast used a TASER against a man in West Belfast, to prevent him causing further injury with a shard of broken glass which he had pressed against his throat.

Officers reported that the man was bleeding heavily from a wound to his arm, and was acting aggressively while moving backwards towards passing traffic. They said TASER was used to prevent him being knocked down or inflicting further injury with the broken glass.

In June 2016, in Antrim it was used against an intoxicated male who pointed a crossbow at his head and threatened to shoot. Officers had also been warned that he had a gun and a hunting knife.

TASER was used when he dropped the crossbow and ran towards officers, who said they were concerned that he would reach for a weapon.

Dr Maguire found that in each instance, TASER had been lawful, justified and proportionate given the risks posed by the situations they faced.

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