A call for two police officers to be sacked after footage emerged of them apparently leaving a drunk woman in a bus lane in Londonderry has been criticised by a DUP MP who said they need to be allowed to explain their actions.
The 23-year-old woman, who has said she is an alcoholic and was drunk during the incident on St Patrick’s Day, added that she cried when she viewed the footage and called for the officers to lose their jobs.
The officers have been switched to positions where they will not have direct contact with the public.
PSNI Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Finlay insisted the repositioning of the officers was done “without any prejudice” to them or the ombudsman’s probe.
He said the move would be reviewed once Dr Maguire had concluded his investigation.
Mobile phone footage of the incident emerged on Facebook on Tuesday, and has been viewed thousands of times.
The BBC obtained further CCTV footage which showed what happened before the short video clip was taken by local man Sean McCallion.
Bridget Mongan was seen running out into the road when her boyfriend was arrested, and then attempting to run at the police car as he was put in the back seat.
Police are then seen moving her away from the car and leaving her in the bus lane where she curled up on the ground.
Yesterday evening it emerged the officers in question are to be “repositioned”, following a recommendation from the Police Ombudsman, a move that will be reviewed upon completion of the investigation. They will not have any direct contact with the public in their new roles.
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said the wider context of the video should be considered and urged people to refrain from making a judgment before a full investigation is carried out by the Police Ombudsman.
“This was a 40-second video clip which, on the face of it, did seem to show officers not acting appropriately or professionally,” he said.
“We now need the ombudsman to investigate what happened before and after the clip.
“If it is the case where there was an alleged assault beforehand, the ombudsman will need to determine whether the officers’ actions in the circumstances were correct or otherwise.”
On Wednesday, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said the footage looked “horrendous”.
It provoked outrage from many, with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeting: “Viewed video showing 2 police officers failing to ensure the safety of an incapacitated woman on a public roadway – totally unacceptable.”
Mr Campbell said the expectation would have been that the woman would “at the very least been moved onto the footpath”.
But he added: “The officers must now be given the opportunity to explain what they did and why they did it. Nobody should rush to judgment on this.”