Police Did Not Use Excessive Force On 'Very Drunk' Man - Ombudsman

Police did not use excessive force while responding to a report that a "very drunk" man was wheeling a toddler in a buggy at a play park in Belfast, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman has concluded.

The man claimed police officers had held him on the ground – one kneeling on his back, another standing on his ankles and another holding his legs, until a police van arrived to take him to custody in August 2015.

The man, who claimed not to have been drunk but admitted having been drinking the night before, said he became angry when police laughed at him after he had been arrested and placed in a police car.

He said he tried to get out of the car, but the door handle came off in his hand, and he was then removed from the car and pinned down by three officers until a police van arrived.

The man also complained that he was not breathalysed during the incident and had therefore not been given an opportunity to prove he was not intoxicated.

A Police Ombudsman investigator interviewed the officers involved. They said they approached the man after receiving a report that a child might be at risk.
News Image
They said he smelt of alcohol and his speech was slurred, and he was asked to provide a breath test to resolve the issue. He refused and officers said they had no power to demand that a sample be provided.

They said the man then became irate and started shouting and swearing, causing a large number of other parents and children in the park to move away.

After placing the man in the police car, officers said he tried repeatedly to get out, pulling at the door handle until it broke off, and punching a window.

They said he was then removed from the vehicle and restrained on the ground, but continued to lash out, so handcuffs and leg restraints were applied.

The officers said he was restrained with his back against a wheel of the police car and denied kneeling on the man’s back or standing on his ankles. A medical examination also found no evidence to support the claims.

The officers added that the man continued to be disruptive when placed in a police van, and repeatedly head butted the sides of the van while being taken to Musgrave Custody Suite in Belfast city centre.

His child was placed in the temporary care of a neighbour, after appropriate checks had been conducted on police systems and with social workers.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that the force used by police had been reasonable and proportionate given the man’s behaviour during the incident.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 July 2007
Man questioned about 1988 murder
A man has been arrested in connection with police inquiries into a murder in 1988. The body of Lily Smyth, 66, was found in her flat at Moveen House in Dunmurry on October 9, 1988. The pensioner had been strangled. A police spokesperson said that a 43-year-old man had been arrested and is being questioned at Antrim Police Station.
04 September 2009
PSNI Cuts Uproar
An already financially beleaguered police service is facing fresh cutbacks. As a result, the Northern Ireland Policing Board is to challenge the Government over proposed £17m cuts in the police service budget. Members are expected to hold a crunch meeting with the NIO Security Minister, it has been announced.
02 April 2002
Trimble praises work of Northern Ireland Police Fund
Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble has paid a visit to the offices of the Northern Ireland Police Fund which was set up to provide support for disabled police officers as well as for the families of murdered police officers.
08 October 2014
Police Cancel Appeal For Missing Omagh Man
Police have said they believe missing Omagh man, Shane Sharkey, has been found in the Republic of Ireland. A police appeal for help in finding the 35-year-old has been cancelled, with police saying they now believe they know where he is. No further details have been released but police thanked the public for their help.
23 June 2016
Police Officers Disciplined For Failing To Tell Doctor About Woman's Head Injuries
Two police officers have been disciplined after they failed to let their colleagues and a police doctor know that a woman had sustained a head injury, a Police Ombudsman investigation has concluded. The woman died from bleeding to the brain on 24 February 2014, the day after she suffered the injury.