THE Police Ombudsman has ruled that a police officer was justified in punching a man who had subjected a “defenceless” woman to a beating with a suspected metal bar.
The incident happened in the seaside town of Portrush in the early hours of Sunday, 26 June 2011.
The assault was captured on CCTV, during which the man hit the woman a number of times with the bar.
Another woman appeared to join in the assault.
The Police Ombudsman’s Office said the footage showed a police car containing two officers stopping in the middle of the road close to the assault.
It said an officer got out of the car and approached the man. He dropped the bar and was then punched three times to the head by the officer before being arrested.
Police referred the incident to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for independent investigation after another officer became concerned at the level of force used by their colleague.
During their investigation, Police Ombudsman investigators viewed the CCTV footage and obtained all relevant police documentation.
The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, noted that the CCTV footage was inconclusive as to whether the man did strike out first, as claimed by the officer.
However, he said the footage did clearly show that the man was “involved in previous fighting” and had committed a serious assault on a woman.
He indicated that as the man did not provide a statement, there was no evidence to refute the officer’s account.
“Man A was subjecting a defenceless female to a serious assault,” Dr Maguire said. She was in considerable danger and there is no doubt immediate action was required to prevent her sustaining further injuries or worse.”
He concluded that the force used by the officer was “proportionate in the circumstances” and made no disciplinary recommendations.
A file was also submitted to the Public Prosecution Service, which directed that the officer should not be prosecuted in relation to the incident.