Police officer cleared of causing injuries by making handcuffs too tight

Handcuffs
Handcuffs

A police officer has been cleared of causing "possible lifelong injuries" to a man by closing handcuffs so tightly that he suffered "suspected nerve damage".

The man claimed he had been left with no feelings in his thumbs or first fingers after the officer from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) "squeezed as tightly as he could" while closing the handcuffs.

However, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman has found there was insufficient evidence to suggest any wrongdoing by the officer.

The man was arrested in Larne in August 2016.

He claimed that he had "begged and begged" for the handcuffs to be loosened while being transported in a police cell van to a custody suite in Belfast, but his pleas were ignored.

He said his hands went numb and that he heard the two officers in the van laughing.

He also alleged that an officer refused him permission to use the toilet before he was placed in the van.

A Police Ombudsman investigator obtained accounts from the officers involved, as well as an independent witness who had seen the arrest.

The witness said the man had been struggling with police as he was being taken to the police van, and said he then heard banging from inside the van and an officer asking the man to stop.

The witness added that none of the officers had acted inappropriately during the arrest.

The officer who applied the handcuffs said he had complied with police procedures, checking them for tightness and double locking them.

A report by a police doctor who examined the man noted that there were marks on a number of places on his arms.

The Police Ombudsman investigator said this suggested that the handcuffs had had a degree of movement, rather than having been locked tightly in one place.

Other medical evidence suggested that the man may have sustained injuries to his wrists months previously.

Witnesses also recalled that the man had been offered the use of a nearby bathroom, but had refused and asked to use one upstairs.

The investigator also noted that the man did not specifically allege that the officers had been laughing at him, simply that they had been laughing.

She concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support disciplinary action against any officer and closed the man's complaint as unsubstantiated.