Use of Taser to pacify man with samurai sword ‘justified’

Suspect chased by PSNI officer complained afterwards he had given self up before device used

File image of a Taser device being tested. File photograph: Getty Images

File image of a Taser device being tested. File photograph: Getty Images


Police were justified in using a Taser stun gun while arresting a man equipped with a samurai sword, the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland has said.

The suspect had been chased by a PSNI officer in August last year in Belfast city centre but complained he had stopped and given himself up before the device was employed.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said: “The officer’s actions were justified given that he was on his own in a dimly lit narrow street and was fearful that footsteps he had heard behind him during the chase might have been accomplices of the suspect.

“In addition, the officer reported that he had not been sure whether the man was stopping to give himself up, to catch his breath before running off again, or to prepare for an attack.”

‘Swinging a knife’

In August 2015, police in Portadown used a Taser while responding to a call from an “upset and incoherent” man who reported that he was “swinging a knife”.

They found him in his living room amid damaged furniture, holding a knife and threatening to stab himself.

In November 2015, officers used a stun gun against a man in west Belfast, to prevent him causing further injury with a shard of broken glass which he had pressed against his throat.

Officers reported that the man was bleeding heavily from a wound to his arm, and was acting aggressively while moving backwards towards passing traffic.

Broken glass

They said a Taser was used to prevent him being knocked down or inflicting further injury with the broken glass.

In June 2016, a Taser was used in Antrim against an intoxicated male who pointed a crossbow at his head and threatened to shoot. Officers had also been warned he had a gun and a hunting knife.

The Taser was used when he dropped the crossbow and ran towards officers, who said they were concerned that he would reach for a weapon.

Dr Maguire found that in each instance, use of a Taser had been lawful, justified and proportionate given the risks posed by the situations the officers faced.

Press Association