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Police cleared of dragging woman from car and assaulting her

Police Ombudsman investigators studied bodycam footage of the incident in Magherafelt.

(Brian Lawless/PA)

Police officers have been cleared over an accusation that they dragged a woman from a car and assaulted her.

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman found no evidence to support the woman’s claim after an incident in Magherafelt in January last year.

Video of the incident from body-worn police cameras, examined by an ombudsman investigator, showed that officers intervened only after the woman grabbed a petrol can and threatened to blow herself up.

The woman complained that police had refused to explain why they wanted her car keys before an officer forced open her driver’s side window, pushed her head against the steering wheel and removed the keys from the ignition.

She said she was then dragged from the vehicle by her legs and head, thrown to the ground, causing her knees to bleed, and elbowed in the face by an officer when she got back up.

The woman also accused officers of using foul language and smirking at her, and claimed they refused to tell her why they were taking her vehicle.

The incident happened after police identified the car as having been reported stolen. The ombudsman said the video showed the officers had explained this to the woman from the outset.

The woman was also seen in the video handing her car keys to police “without issue” when asked, and was not dragged from the vehicle as alleged.

The footage showed that the woman’s demeanour quickly changed as she became verbally abusive and threatened to blow herself up before climbing into the back of the car.

An officer opened the rear door of the car to find the woman with a petrol can in her hand. He grabbed her wrist and forced her to let go of it.

The ombudsman investigator found that the officer’s use of force was justified in the circumstances.

There was no evidence that the woman had sustained any injuries to her face or knees, or that any officer had used foul language or smirked at her.

The Police Ombudsman did not uphold the complaint.

PA