Garda sergeant who discharged gun cleared of wrongdoing
Dog wounded, man (20s) hit in leg by ricocheting bullet during incident in Longford
The incident, which occurred last December, was recorded on video phone by a person present and was widely circulated on social media and published in the mainstream media. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
A Garda sergeant who discharged a firearm during a disturbance in Co Longford has been cleared of wrongdoing after a Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) inquiry.
The incident, which occurred last December, was recorded on video phone by a person present and was widely circulated on social media and published in the mainstream media.
A dog was wounded when the sergeant’s gun was discharged. A man in his 20s also suffered a leg wound due to the ricocheting bullet.
However, while the injured man required medical treatment he was not seriously injured.
At the time Gsoc was obliged to open an inquiry as it must investigate any incident during which a person is injured during their contacts with Garda members.
Highly charged situation
Gardaí are afforded significant discretion in discharging their firearms in a “proportionate” manner.
Any member of the force must assess the threat posed by a situation they find themselves in and may discharge their gun if they feel their safety is threatened.
The Garda sergeant who discharged his gun last December was dealing with a highly charged situation at the time and was being confronted by a number of people.
One person was trying to drive a vehicle away from the scene but another man was attempting to stop him.
The sergeant and his colleagues had been called into the area to police the incident when it escalated and the shot was discharged.
The sergeant was being pulled by the tie by an unidentified person at the time and it appears he feared being attacked by the dog at the scene.
However, after an inquiry he has now been cleared of any wrongdoing in discharging his firearm.
Garda sources said they were not surprised at the outcome, adding it was always felt the sergeant’s response was proportionate during what was a flashpoint incident.
Gsoc declined to comment, adding it did not comment about the outcome of any investigations.
However, Garda sources said an inquiry was now underway by Gsoc into the veracity of a statement given by a member of public which sought to incriminate the sergeant.
The sergeant had already secured promotion to the rank of inspector at the time the incident occurred. That promotion is expected to take place in coming weeks.