Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Blind man sues police over Taser

Solicitors are to launch a compensation bid for a blind man who was Tasered by police

A blind stroke victim who was shot in the back with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun by a police officer who mistook his white stick for a samurai sword is launching a bid for compensation.

Colin Farmer, 62, collapsed to the ground in shock and believed he might be dying from another stroke. The blunder happened after reports were received of a man walking through the town centre of Chorley, Lancashire, with a martial arts weapon.

Mr Farmer, who has suffered two strokes and walks at a "snail's pace", was on his way to a pub to meet friends for a drink and did not realise anything was afoot until the officer Tasered him.

His solicitors have now confirmed that Mr Farmer is planning to launch a civil claim against Lancashire Police.

In a statement, they said Mr Farmer, from Chorley, had instructed Sophie Khan of McMillan Williams Solicitors to represent him "in his civil claim for compensation against Lancashire Constabulary".

The statement said: "Mr Farmer, who is registered blind/partially sighted and has suffered two strokes in the past, was Tasered by Chorley police officers on Friday October 12 whilst he was out walking in the late afternoon. The officers mistook Mr Farmer's white walking stick for a samurai sword and as a result Tasered Mr Farmer in the back.

"The officer involved has yet to be suspended from carrying a Taser despite the fact that the officer involved would need to be investigated for both disciplinary proceedings and criminal assault on Mr Farmer.

"The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have indicated that they are conducting an investigation and McMillan Williams will be writing to the IPCC to find out what steps they are taking regarding this serious incident."

Mr Farmer said he heard shouting on the street but did not know what it was about and thought he was going to be attacked by "some hooligans". He was then struck by the Taser and fell to the ground in Peter Street, dropping his white stick, before a policeman handcuffed him. When the mistake was realised he was taken to Chorley Hospital for treatment and was later released.

Lancashire Police apologised last week to Mr Farmer for the "traumatic experience" but confirmed that the officer who fired the Taser has not been suspended and remains on duty. They said an "urgent investigation" had been launched into the incident and the matter has also been referred to the IPCC.

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