Police were right to use Taser on man armed with knives, Ombudsman rules

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An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has found that police were right to use a Taser stun gun against a man following a stabbing incident in Lisburn on New Year’s Day 2015.

Police had received a report at around 2am that a woman had been stabbed and that her assailant was still armed with a knife.

Three local response officers were first to attend. They told Police Ombudsman investigators that they found the injured woman outside a house with a stab wound to her side.

One stayed with the woman while two others entered the house. They said they found broken pieces of furniture in the hallway leading to the kitchen, and blood on the floor and walls.

The officers shouted instructions for anyone in the house to come out showing their hands. They reported that the kitchen door then opened and they saw a man with a knife in each hand standing behind a woman who was trying to calm him down.

Both officers said they initially drew their pistols, but one re-holstered his before drawing his CS Spray.

The officers said the man failed to comply with repeated requests to drop the knives, and still had the weapons when an armed police response unit arrived to deal with the situation at about 2.10am.

Two armed officers then entered the property, one with a pistol, the other with a Taser. The man continued to ignore requests to drop the knives. The officer who discharged the Taser said it was only when the woman positioned in front of the man moved slightly to one side that he saw an opportunity to use Taser.

The discharge was successful, causing the man to fall to the ground, which then allowed the officers to disarm and restrain him.

Enquiries by Police Ombudsman investigators showed that the officer who fired the Taser had been trained in its use and was authorised to use the weapon at the time of the incident.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of the weapon had been lawful, proportionate and necessary. He also rejected a complaint from the woman who had been pleading with the man to drop the knives that the use of the Taser had been excessive in the circumstances.