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Taser on man who fell from a roof was "completely inappropriate"

Worcester Editorial 27th Mar, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

THE USE of a police Taser gun which caused a man to fall from a roof was completely inappropriate, an investigation has ruled.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) looked at the case following the incident at an address in Warndon in August 2012.

Police were called to the property to find the man on a relative’s roof causing damage, including dropping tiles.

Officers then tried to detain the man under the Mental Health Act as he had a knife and hammer and was threatening to harm himself.

After an hour of trying to persuade the man to come down without success they obtained permission to Taser him despite the fact a trained negotiator had been called.

The Taser was fired and the man fell from the eight foot high roof causing minor injuries.

The victim later complained about the use of the Taser gun and the lack of warning given to him in advance.

The independent investigation found a police inspector and police sergeant both had a case to answer for misconduct because they had not fully considered the risks in authorising the use of the Taser and not waiting a negotiator to arrive at the scene.

The investigation found there was no case to answer for a third officer, a police constable.

At a misconduct meeting earlier this month, held by West Mercia Police, the findings for misconduct were upheld against the inspector and sergeant relating to the discharging of their duties and responsibilities.

Findings over misconduct in the use of force were not found and they will receive management advice.

The investigation also found West Mercia Police should seek to make clear how it deals with the aftermath of incidents of a similar nature including how officers are debriefed after Taser is used on duty.

West Mercia Police referred the incident to the IPCC at the time. The independent investigation by the IPCC concluded in September last year and the report and findings were shared at that time with West Mercia Police.

Rachel Cerfontyne, IPCC deputy chair, said: “To use a Taser in these circumstances was potentially very dangerous and completely inappropriate.

“The man was not posing any threat to others and was engaging with officers.

“It is hard to understand why the officers did not wait for the negotiator.

“He was clearly distressed and in my view it was wrong to use force against him, whilst the option of persuading him to come down safely remained open.

“Before using any kind of force, including Taser, it is essential for the police to assess risk factors, in particular vulnerability.

“The IPCC is very clear that we have serious reservations about some of the circumstances in which a Taser is used and the public’s concern over the use of taser will only increase with cases such as this one. Taser should only be used in specific and appropriate circumstances and we will continue to monitor its use.”

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