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Monday, June 29, 2009

'Why shoot me?' asks Taser victim

June 29, 2009
BBC News

It was the first time the weapon was used in Northern Ireland

The first person to be shot with a Taser stun gun in Northern Ireland says he doesn't know why he was fired at.

On Friday, all charges against Declan Smith, 38, of Elaghmore Park, Londonderry, were dropped.

He was tasered by police last August after claims that he had locked himself inside a house with his two children.

District Judge Barney McElhom told him that he left the court with no stain on his character.

Mr Smith said he was woken in the middle of the night on 24 August last year, to find his house surrounded by armed police.

"They shouted for me to come out and I tried to get out through the front door, but it was locked.

"So I shouted: 'I'll go to the back.'

"I didn't know what was going on or why they were. When I went to the back door, I opened it and I was asked to step out. I stepped out and I was immediately tasered.

"I couldn't comprehend what was happening. It was very hard to take in. I kept asking why and I was getting no answers from the police. One comment that one of them said was: 'You're lucky you didn't get two live rounds in the chest.'"

In court in Derry on Friday, charges that Mr Smith had mad threats to kill, were dropped after a prosecution lawyer said the alleged injured party had withdrawn her statement.

Taser guns fire two wires which attach to the body and carry an electric shock.

The police were given permission to buy 12 Taser guns in 2008, despite opposition from human rights groups and some members of the policing board.

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