The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found that a police officer’s discharge of a Taser on a 28-year-old man was not reasonable or necessary.
The incident happened outside a pub in Quakerfield, Bannockburn, on 16 September 2018 and the PIRC has recommended that the Specially Trained Officer (STO), who discharged the Taser, undergoes refresher training and reassessment in the use of the Taser.
Five hundred STOs have been trained by Police Scotland in the use of Taser devices and were deployed from June 2018 onwards. In light of the deployment of these officers, the PIRC investigated the initial incidents involving STOs and their use of Tasers.
The Commissioner found that the response of the officers involved in 3 of these incidents was necessary, proportionate and justified
However with regard to the incident in Bannockburn, the independent PIRC report, published today (23 April, 2019), found that the 28-year-old man did not appear to be posing an imminent threat to any police officers and the use of the Taser was not a proportionate response.
You can read the full report here.
Six police officers went to a pub in the Quakerfield area of Bannockburn to arrest the man who was wanted in connection with an alleged assault on two people earlier that day.
One officer took hold of the man and he was escorted to the door of the pub where there was a struggle and he ran off chased by five of the officers and two Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs). The PIRC report found there was no evidence that officers had informed the man that he was under arrest.
During the chase, the man became aggressive and threatening towards the police officers and on a number of occasions challenged them to a fight.
The man challenged the officers again in a nearby car park and refused to get down on the ground. When he moved towards one of the AFOs, the officer discharged PAVA spray at the man which struck him on the face. Despite this, the man managed to jump over a wall and run back towards the pub.
He was again chased by the officers but before reaching the pub, the man stopped and bent down. The police officers told the man to stop what he was doing and get down on the ground but he again challenged them to a fight. One of the officers then discharged PAVA spray which again struck the man on the face.
The PIRC report concluded that at that point, the discharge of the PAVA spray was necessary to try and arrest the man without injury to himself or the officers.
Witnesses described the man at this point as being disorientated, rubbing his eyes and walking backwards away from the police officers. Mobile phone footage also showed the man walking backwards with his hands outstretched and his palms facing the officers in front of him. A civilian witness then approached the man and the man bent forward and leant his head into the witness’s abdomen.
One of the officers (an STO) who had chased the man drew her Taser and warned him that she had a Taser, then approached him and touched him on the shoulder which caused him to jerk his right arm up and backwards. The officer then discharged her Taser at the man and he was arrested.
The PIRC report said that the man did not appear to be posing an imminent threat to officers at the time the Taser was discharged and in the circumstances, the use of Taser was not reasonable, proportionate or necessary. Additionally, the report found that an officer who was standing immediately behind the man was at risk of being struck by the Taser barbs.
The man was arrested, charged with a number of offences and later convicted.
The incident was referred to the PIRC by Police Scotland on 21 September 2019. The Commissioner’s investigation focused on the discharge of PAVA spray and the use of Taser and whether these actions were a proportionate response in the circumstances.
As well as recommending that the STO involved undergoes refresher training in the use of Taser, the Commissioner has also recommended that officers involved in the incident are reminded of arrest procedures and the need to inform people when they have been placed under arrest.
Notes to Editors:
In terms of the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006, as amended, and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013, all incidents of Police Scotland’s use of firearms, must be referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) for independent assessment.