22/04/2015

Police Officer Fired Shot 'Accidentally' - Report

A police officer accidentally fired a shot at a car believed to contain armed paramilitaries, a report by the Police Ombudsman has revealed.

The incident happened in south Belfast on 6 November 2013.

No one was injured and no firearms were recovered, however four men were arrested and two knuckle dusters and a wooden baton were recovered from the vehicle.

The incident was referred by the Chief Constable to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.

Forensic examination of the car showed that the shot had been fired in an upward direction from very close range. The police officer said he had readied his gun for firing, in accordance with his training for such scenarios, however, he stumbled as he approached the car.

The rifle slid up window before an accidental shot was fired into the doorframe.

The officer was a member of one of two police armed response units which had been tasked to intercept the vehicle in connection with an earlier reported incident.
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Police had been advised shortly before 9pm that six men had called at a house, identified themselves as members of a paramilitary organisation, and asked to speak to one of the occupants.

They failed to gain entry to the house and were reported to have made off in two cars. Examination of police records, including the initial phone call to police, showed that police circulated a description of the vehicles and advised that they contained firearms.

When one of the cars was spotted being driven in the south Belfast area, the armed response units were authorised to force it to stop.

The four men who were in the vehicle were interviewed and said the officer had fired a shot at them after their vehicle was rammed as it was pulling over to stop.

Officers in the police cars said they forced the car to stop as it had failed to pull over. The training records of the officer who discharged the firearm were examined and showed that he was properly trained in the use of the weapon at the time of the incident.

(CD/JP)

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