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Ombudsman rejects claims officer used homophobic language and excessive force during Belfast arrest

By Claire Williamson

Published 26/04/2016

A Police Ombudsman investigation has rejected claims that a police officer used homophobic language and excessive force against a man arrested for disorderly behaviour in Belfast.

The incident happened last june.

The man claimed that after being stopped by police, an officer threw him to the ground and held him there with his knee on his neck.

He also claimed that an officer had made a homophobic remark and said that while being taken into custody he had been pushed up against a window of a police car and held against it by his neck.

He also alleged that a large clump of his hair had been pulled from his scalp as a bobble was removed while staff dealt with him in the custody suite.

Police Ombudsman investigators interviewed the officers who had dealt with the man, reviewed police documentation and sourced and viewed CCTV footage from the custody suite.

There was no CCTV footage of the man’s initial arrest but the officers involved said they decided to approach him after seeing him and his sister walking in a high crime area in the early hours of the morning.

The officers said the man put up the hood of his sweatshirt as they drove past.

They said that within seconds of stopping to speak to him he “went berserk” - shouting and screaming and pulling everything out of his pockets before being asked to do so.

They said that as he was being taken to custody after being arrested, he kicked out at the driver of the police car, forcing the driver to stop the car so that the man could be properly restrained.

CCTV footage from the custody suite showed the man acting aggressively and resisting police staff but the Police Ombudsman investigator said the situation had been “well managed”.

He was restrained on a mattress on the floor and staff could be heard telling him to calm down.

A medical examination carried out while he was in custody indicated that he suffered redness to his wrists but no other injuries.

There was no evidence that a clump of hair had been pulled from the man’s scalp or that an officer had placed a knee on his neck.

An officer commented that he was not surprised the man’s wrists were red given the amount of resistance he had put up while handcuffed.

There was also no other evidence to substantiate the man’s claim that an officer had made a homophobic comment during his arrest.

The man has since received an adult caution for his behaviour during the incident

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