03 June 2021 | Investigations
PIRC Investigation: Discharge of Taser by police in Orkney
About 3.15 am on Sunday 21 February 2021, at a house in Orkney, two Police Scotland Specially Trained Officers (STO’s) discharged a Taser at a 22-year-old man when he ran at officers and appeared to reach for a knife.
Prior to the incident, the man made numerous 999 calls to Police Scotland, shouting, swearing and stating that he wanted to stab police officers. He also said that he had mental health issues. Two STO’s were sent to the incident armed with Taser devices and were confronted by the man, who appeared at a window brandishing a metal pole and a knife. The man was shouting that he was going to stab and kill the officers. He was instructed to drop the weapons and both officers pointed their Tasers at him.
When the man left the house he was instructed to kneel on the ground. He was initially compliant but then ran at an officer and reached towards a knife sheath in the waistband of his trousers, resulting in both officers discharging their Tasers, and temporarily incapacitating the man. He was then arrested and handcuffed. The man suffered no after effects from the Taser and was detained in police custody.
The man subsequently appeared at court and received a custodial sentence. As court proceedings are concluded, we are able to publish details of the incident.
REFERRAL TO THE PIRC
Under the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006, as amended, and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Investigations, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013, all incidents of Police Scotland’s use of firearms, including the use of Taser, must be referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) for independent assessment. In this regard, on 23 February 2021 Police Scotland referred this incident to the PIRC.
PIRC investigators obtained statements from the individual officers involved and also obtained and examined command and control incident logs, recordings of telephone and airwave radio communications, briefing papers, the relevant Police Scotland Standard Operating Procedures and photographs taken of the scene shortly after the incident occurred.
- The man had a history of self-harming, mental health issues and criminal conduct including the use of weapons and violence towards police officers, resulting in him being well known to the police and emergency services in Orkney.
- When the man telephoned Police Scotland he was abusive and threatened to stab police officers.
- Police officers were sent to the man’s home where they saw that he had armed himself with a metal pole and knife. He again threatened to stab officers.
- When the man left his home he made a sudden lunge towards an officer while reaching for a knife sheath in his trouser waistband. The officers discharged their Tasers and the man was arrested.
- In the circumstances, the use of Taser was necessary, proportionate and justified.