Police Justified In Using AEP Baton Rounds And Tasers Against Armed Man

Police were justified in using AEP baton rounds and Tasers against a man armed with machete-type sword, the Police Ombudsman has concluded.

Witnesses reported that the man had used the swords to hit himself on the head and cut his throat in the Stiles Way area of Antrim in the early hours of 17 January 2015.

The man later thanked police for stopping him causing himself further injury.

Four response police officers were first to arrive at the scene after a member of the public reported that the man was standing in the middle of the road with the swords at his feet, and had acted menacingly when approached.

The officers said the man was intoxicated and seemed disturbed. When he refused to hand over the weapons, a police armed response unit (ARU) was summoned.

As the response officers waited for the armed unit they continued to try to reason with and calm the man, who they said was crying and stating that he wanted to die.

Civilian witnesses praised the officers for the sympathetic way in which they dealt with the man. They said he was spoken to in a calm and friendly way, and that officers had referred to him by his first name, asked him about his family and offered him a cigarette.

The civilian witnesses also stated that the man’s behaviour deteriorated when the ARU officers arrived, and some queried whether the situation could have been resolved without the use of force.

However, the commander of the armed unit said it had been a volatile situation and he was concerned for the safety of the response officers, given their proximity to a man acting erratically with dangerous weapons.
News Image
He said they approached without flashing lights or sirens so as not to alarm him, had tried to reason with him, but had no option but to intervene when he moved threateningly towards an officer.

Police and civilian witnesses, and members of an ambulance crew, each reported that the first AEP was fired as the man approached one of the ARU officers with the swords in his hands, having ignored orders to drop the weapons.

A second officer fired another baton round when the first failed to stop the man. Both officers said that there was open grassy space behind him, and reported that the rounds were fired from a range of around 15 metres.

Officers reported that the use of AEPs distracted the man and allowed them to get close enough to use Tasers. As he turned to run away, still clutching the swords, two officers each discharged two Taser rounds – four in total – in quick succession.

These also failed to subdue him, but after a short chase he stopped running and was eventually persuaded by police to hand over the weapons.

He was then arrested and taken to Antrim Area Hospital for treatment, having suffered cuts to his neck, and injuries to his lower abdomen and knee thought to have been caused by the baton rounds.

The man later told Police Ombudsman investigators that he had been depressed and admitted asking police to shoot him. He thanked police for the way they dealt with the incident.

The officers who discharged the weapons were found to have been properly trained and authorised.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that the use of AEPS and Tasers had been justified and proportionate to the threat posed, and had represented the minimal reasonable use of force by police.

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

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.
13 March 2014
Police Justify Using Tasers In Five Incidents
The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, has found that police were justified in using Tasers during five incidents involving people armed with knives. Four involved people who were threatening to harm or kill themselves, the other involved a person who was using a knife to threaten his mother and sister.
28 May 2002
Police use of plastic bullets “justified” says watchdog
The use of plastic baton rounds by police over the past year was “fully justified” a Police Ombudsman report has concluded. The Police Ombudsman’s report published on Tuesday deals with seven incidents, which took place in Counties Armagh and Antrim over a twelve-month period (April 2001 to March 2002).
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.
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.