Complaint rejected after police officer describes “fighting for his life”

Incident Date: Aug 2016

The Police Ombudsman has rejected allegations against a police officer, after hearing how he was subjected to an attack which forced him to fight for his life.

The incident happened after the officer and a female colleague responded to a reported burglary in Co. Derry/Londonderry last August.

The suspect complained that the officer had punched him on the nose, kicked him on the back and ribs and sprayed him with CS spray on at least six occasions.

He also claimed he should not have been arrested as he had done nothing wrong and was not resisting.

Police had been called to the man’s home after new tenants moving into the flat below found that the door had been kicked in and items removed from the property.

The officers found the missing items in the complainant’s flat.

When questioned by a Police Ombudsman investigator, the male officer said the incident had lasted over 40 minutes and he had used CS Spray on three, not six, occasions.

He said the man, who was significantly bigger than him, swung his fists at himself and his colleague when they tried to handcuff him.

Man was a lot bigger than officer, who feared falling down steep stairs.

The struggle spilled out from the hallway of the flat into the stairwell and he feared either himself or his colleague would fall down what he described as a “very steep set of stairs.”

He added that the man had attempted to throw a large vase at him and had also attacked him with karate style kicks. He said at one stage he felt like he was fighting for his life.

The officer denied having assaulted the man but accepted that his leg might at some point have struck him in the face, as a result of the way in which he had been grabbed by the complainant.

In the circumstances, the officer said the use of CS Spray was proportionate given the threat he faced.

His account of the incident was supported by his colleague and independent witnesses.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that the officer’s use of force, including CS Spray, was appropriate and necessary, and concluded that his decision to arrest the man for burglary, criminal damage and assault on police had been entirely justified.

The complainant has been convicted of a number of offences in relation to the incident.

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