Police vindicated over use of taser on woman in Ballymena

Taser

Taser

  • Woman was holding knife to her throat
  • Ombudsman said use of taser prevented woman causing further self-harm

The Police Ombudsman has found that police were justified in using a Taser against a woman who was holding a knife to her throat.

The incident happened in Ballymena in September 2015, after the woman had called 999.

As with all instances in which police firearms are used in Northern Ireland, the incident was referred by the Chief Constable to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.

Investigators established that the woman had sounded “confused” during the 999 call and officers said that when they arrived at her home, she told them to go away as she did not need them.

However, the officers stayed and a short time later the woman came out through her front door with a knife held to her throat.

She had cuts to her arms but was not bleeding heavily.

Armed officers were then tasked to the scene and on arrival they attempted to persuade the woman to drop the knife.

The woman was reported to have been distressed and told officers that she had been drinking.

An officer noted there were numerous cuts on the woman’s arm and blood on the ground.

She then turned to walk back into her flat and officers reported hearing her say “that’s it”.

An officer then discharged his Taser, which then allowed officers to move in and remove the knife from her hand.

She was then taken to hospital and was monitored overnight.

Police Ombudsman investigators attended the scene, which was examined and photographed.

A Taser cartridge, barbs and identification discs found at the scene corresponded with the Taser which had been used.

The police officer who fired the weapon was found to be properly trained and authorised to use it.

The woman later stated that the officers had acted professionally and agreed that police had been justified in their actions.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said the use of Taser had prevented the woman causing further self-harm. He also noted that the device had been used only after she had been given an opportunity to drop the knife.

He concluded that the use of Taser had been “lawful, proportionate and necessary.”