Probe clears of­fi­cers who drew guns af­ter pur­suit

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY ADRIAN RUTHER­FORD

PO­LICE of­fi­cers were jus­ti­fied in aim­ing their guns at a driver af­ter a pur­suit in North Down, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

The driver lodged a com­plaint that the of­fi­cers’ use of firearms dur­ing the in­ci­dent, near New­tow­nards in Fe­bru­ary 2017, was op­pres­sive, un­jus­ti­fied and had caused him distress.

How­ever, in ac­counts pro­vided to the Po­lice Om­buds­man’s Of­fice, the of­fi­cers said they had drawn their weapons as they feared for their safety — given that the driver had failed to stop and was con­tin­u­ing to edge his ve­hi­cle towards them.

They ex­plained that the in­ci­dent had be­gun when the driver over­took them at high speed on a bend on the Porta­ferry Road.

They de­scribed ac­ti­vat­ing their ve­hi­cle’s blue flash­ing lights and sirens and pur­su­ing the car for around three to four miles be­fore it fi­nally slowed down and pulled over.

How­ever, as an of­fi­cer ap­proached the ve­hi­cle, they said it drove off, forc­ing them to again give chase and bring it to a stop by po­si­tion­ing their ve­hi­cle di­ag­o­nally across the road in front of it.

Even then, as both of­fi­cers walked towards the ve­hi­cle, they said the driver con­tin­ued to edge the car towards them.

They then drew their guns in re­sponse to the threat they per­ceived him to pose.

The of­fi­cers said they had re-hol­stered their weapons as soon as the driver had com­plied with their in­struc­tions by stop­ping the car, turn­ing off the en­gine and show­ing his hands.

Po­lice ra­dio trans­mis­sions re­lat­ing to the in­ci­dent were re­viewed by the Po­lice Om­buds­man in­ves­ti­ga­tor and found to cor­rob­o­rate the of­fi­cers’ ac­counts.

The Po­lice Om­buds­man in­ves­ti­ga­tor con­cluded there was no ev­i­dence of any mis­con­duct by ei­ther of the of­fi­cers in­volved.

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