EXCLUSIVE: TWO OF MATT BAGGOTT’S finest officers are in the dock today for allegedly hitting a teenage boy with a four tonne armoured Land Rover.
Belfast Daily can reveal that the Police Ombudsman has sent a file to the Public Prosecution Service recommending charges against two officers over the incident last month.
Investigators believe the attack by officers from a specialist Tactical Support Group (TSG) is linked to a ten-year campaigan of intimidation against his father, a former RUC officer.
A specialist team within the Police Ombudsman’s office has now been set up to probe the father’s complaints over the last decade against PSNI officers to see if the campaign of intimidation against him was sanctioned at a high level with the the service.
His 16-year-old son was walking home with friends on September 12 after a cross community group meeting when the drama unfolded in north Belfast.
In a statement to Ombudsman investigators, his son said: “At around 11pm I was standing with friends at the bottom of the Oldpark Road, north Belfast on the pavement when I seen a police Landrover approach from the Crumlin Road heading country wards.
“Without warning this police vehicle suddenly made a right turn unto the Oldpark Road and mounted the footpath heading straight for me and my friends.
“At first I froze then I realised it wasn’t going to stop so I turned around and began to run up the alleyway away from the speeding landrover.
“It continued to run at me and as I entered Shannon Court which is at the end of the alleyway I became aware that the vehicle was very close to me.
“As I tried to avoid it I believe either my leg or foot was struck by the landrover causing me to stumble forward.
“I thought at first it was going to crush me and I started to run again.
“I am not sure if I hit by knee on the ground or twisted on impact with the vehicle it happened so fast but I felt a sharp tearing pain in my knee as I continued to try to avoid being run over.
“As I tried to go up another alleyway I became aware that police officers on foot were pursuing me and as I looked around I could see they had batons drawn.
“They quickly caught up with me and one of them pushed a baton into my back as I was pinned to a wall up the alleyway. I at no time resisted the police and would regard this as an assault with the baton.
“I was then brought back to the landrover and questioned about what myself and my friends were doing I replied I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
“I heard one officer saying that I was almost killed and tried to blame that on me. After 10 minutes or so they told me to go away on and I did and reported the incident to my Dad . He attempted to talk to a senior officer but no one was available.
“My Dad reported the incident to the Police Ombudsman the following day.”
Two senior PONI investigators, including its own CSI team, later visited the scene and took pictures and casts of wheel marks at where the teenager said he was struck by the Land Rover.
A number of CCTV recordings were also recovered including one from a local petrol station where the boys had earlier bought sweets.
Said his father: “I have been told that local police were unaware of any TSG unit operating on their patch that night.
“In fact, when BRC (Belfast Regional Control) attempted to contact any call sign who had been in contact with my son, it got no reply. This unit went totally silent.”
It is understood PONI investigators have a statement from a witness who allegedly heard police talking about the incident.
He told investigators: “I heard one of the police officers saying to the other: ‘F**k me. You nearly killed him there.”’
Belfast Daily understands that seven police officer who were in the Land Rover that night have been spoken to by PONI investigators.
The driver of the four-tonne Landrover and his observer were both interviewed under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) by way of an Article 3 caution.
A file on the pair is being sent to the Public Prosecution Service to consider bring charges against the officers of causing injury by reckless drivingk, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a Section 42 offence of common assault.
A third officer has been reported to the PSNI’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) for a number of disciplinary offences.
The four other TSG officers may also be reported to PSD disciplinary offences related to the alleged assault.
The victim of the alleged assault has told Belfast Daily that he been to hospital several times for doctors to examine his leg injury.
The teenager said: “I have been X-rayed at the RVH hospital where I was then refered to Musgrave Park Hospital for an for a fully examination of the damage to my knee.
“I have been told that I have definitely cartilage damage and there maybe other internal damage too.
“Before this incident I and my friends had just came from the local filling station after buying sweets and were standing chatting. I have no idea why the Police acted the way they did.”