Complaint dismissed: Woman who had knife taken off her by police claimed she had been assaulted

A woman who claimed she was assaulted by police officers after a knife was seized from her handbag at a party has had her complaint dismissed by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

The woman made the complaint of assault and one of malpractice after she was arrested at a house party in Antrim in May.

Police had been called to the property after receiving a report that a female had been injured during a disturbance at the party.

The complainant told Police Ombudsman investigators that police had seized a knife from her handbag without explanation so she had begun to record them on her mobile phone. She said the knife had been produced during the disturbance and she had taken it away so it could not be found.

However, the woman claimed that when she began recording, one officer became aggressive and had knocked the phone from her hand before grabbing her by the wrists and throwing her to the ground. She said another two officers then held her down and handcuffed her.

The woman also complained of being lifted by the wrists, which caused her pain, before being taken to the police vehicle. She said that officers refused to remove her handcuffs when she asked them to do so, and that she suffered a cut to her knee and bruises to her wrists, arm and legs as a result of police actions.

During the Police Ombudsman investigation the officer in question denied striking the woman or causing her any injury. He said that as the initial disturbance had been dealt with and the complainant was shouting and aggressive, he had tried to deescalate the situation by leaving the property. However, he had been followed by the woman who continued to record him.

The officer added that at one point he had pushed her hand away as she had been holding the mobile phone within inches of his face and he feared being assaulted. The officer said that only when the woman swung her hand back towards his face was she arrested. He agreed that the woman had been taken to the ground during her arrest but said it was with the assistance of only one other officer.

The officer’s account of the incident was supported by the other police officers present as well as Body Worn Video footage of the incident. Investigators also concluded that the woman’s handcuffs could not have been applied too tightly as she had told them she was able to release her hands from them.

The woman did not provide any evidence of her injuries or witness details despite several requests from the Office.

As the woman’s assault allegations could not be supported by the evidence her complaint was closed by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

Her complaint that the video had been deleted from her mobile phone when it was returned to her after her arrest, was withdrawn by the woman herself as she did not want her phone to be seized and forensically examined.