'Tasered' Pensioner Under Review
From: CPD Webinars 26/01/09:
A police watchdog has been reviewing the case of an 89-year-old man, who was shot with a Taser gun by officers.
Police claim they used the 50,000-volt stun-gun as the pensioner was threatening to cut his throat with a piece of glass after he had walked out of a local residential home into the street in Llandudno, Conwy.
The attending officers fearing he might kill himself shot him with the taser as a preventative measure. Afterwards he was taken to hospital to recover from a minor glass wound.
North Wales Police received an official complaint from the pensioner’s family and have was referred it to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
North Wales Police said afterwards that the officers had made a judgement to protect his life and it was now up to the watchdog to decide whether to hold an investigation.
They said that the use of the Taser was the "safest and most appropriate" option. It is understood [the OAP's family] felt that police should have given themselves more time to talk to him.
It always difficult to judge these situations if you weren't present at the material time or even privy to all of the facts. Determining whether the deployment of a taser in any given circumstance was a reasonable and proportionate course of action for officers to take strikes me as a very inexact science. Still, that doesn't stop everyone else casting aspersions and jumping in with their two cents' worth so what the heck.
I should think that the level of controversy surrounding the wider roll-out of tasers across police forces in the UK have put police very much on their guard when it comes to deploying them. If nothing else, they surely know that any situation in which a person is tasered is going to be ex post very closely scrutinised. On the facts, though, I don't think the police should be automatically criticised, notwithstanding the fact that "tasering an 89 year old" sounds a little harsh. I'm presuming here that the police did try to speak with the man before reaching for the taser and that they acted in a responsible and appropriate manner. If a man who is clearly acting in an irrational, disturbed and dangerous manner - he was, after all, holding a broken piece of glass to his throat - surely disabling him is the right course of action. Sometimes a 'wait and see' policy isn't always viable with a potential suicide victim.