Belfast Telegraph

Officer in clear over shots that blinded a joyrider

By Chris Kilpatrick

A police officer who fired shots at a stolen car – blinding a joyrider in his right eye – was justified in doing so, a watchdog's investigation has found.

The Police Ombudsman recommended no disciplinary action be taken against the officer, who opened fire at the vehicle as it was being driven towards him.

One shot struck the car's passenger, blinding him in one eye.

A report by the Ombudsman said police were on patrol in Dundonald in January 2007 when they noticed a stolen Vauxhall Monaro.

They followed it and another car, a Volkswagen Golf, into a cul-de-sac and moved to block off the Monaro. Rather than stop, the Monaro accelerated towards the police car, ramming it.

As it reversed, the officers got out of their car and moved to where they thought it was safe. The car accelerated towards one of the officers, who raised his weapon and shouted "armed police", but the car continued.

He said he fired two shots at the driver of the car fearing for his life and that of his colleague.

The Monaro mounted the footpath and continued onto the Comber Road before stopping.

The Golf driver, who has never been identified, made off on foot.

Police treated the injured man at the scene before other officers took him to hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

The Police Ombudsman's Office was informed about the incident by officers and launched an immediate investigation.

Investigators carried out examinations of the scene and took statements from the police, those in the car and residents.

A file of evidence was prepared and submitted to the Public Prosecution Service, which directed against a prosecution.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire found the shots were justified given the risks posed to the officers. He made no recommendation for disciplinary action.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr welcomed the findings. "The Ombudsman did not identify issues or make recommendations, however, it is of course regrettable that a man suffered a serious injury," he said.

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