A woman awarded £3,000 compensation after being struck by a PSNI officer’s baton has said she is “annoyed” by the criticism it attracted.
Nicola McAleer had been drinking in Omagh with friends in September 2012 when she emerged from a pub to see a man she knew being arrested.
Ms McAleer – who claimed she saw a crowd standing around shouting and jeering at police and had gone over to see what was happening – was struck twice on the thigh by a female officer.
She said the strikes inflicted pain which lasted for weeks and left her emotionally affected. It was claimed that Ms McAleer was among those acting aggressively towards the four officers.
In a statement issued to the Irish News through her solicitor, Ms McAleer said: “Police are trained to deal with Saturday night crowds and innocent bystanders should not be treated in this manner.”
Although the appeal court judge described Ms McAleer’s drink-fuelled behaviour as unacceptable, he held that the strikes to her leg involved excessive force.
According to the policewoman, a crowd of up to 20 people had surrounded four officers at the scene. The court heard they were shouting “Up the RA” and hurling “vile” abuse at the officers.
Police Federation chairman Terry Spence was one of those who criticised the compensation award. He said Mr Justice Gillen’s ruling would “make it even tougher for police officers to deal with hostile groups”.
Responding specifically to Mr Spence’s comments, Ms McAleer said: “I am somewhat surprised at the reaction of the Police Federation to the award of damages and I am annoyed by the PSNI’s approach.”