Officers cleared of ‘excessive force’ complaints

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Police have been cleared of an allegation that they used excessive force in arresting a teenager suspected of possessing petrol bombs.

The Police Ombudsman exonerated the officers involved after investigating a complaint by the detained youth.

The teenage boy was arrested in Londonderry in April 2013.

He claimed his arrest had been unlawful and insisted he had done nothing wrong.

He complained that “about 16” police officers came running towards him, two of whom grabbed him and threw him against a wall.

The youth further alleged that as he was being led to a police Land Rover, an officer put his hand on his neck and kept nipping it, and, while in the vehicle, an officer was verbally abusive towards him.

The teenager was placed in police custody but later released unconditionally.

A Police Ombudsman investigator interviewed officers who had been involved in the incident and also reviewed police records, including aerial video footage captured from a police helicopter.

The ombudsman’s inquiry found that footage showed the youth’s clothing had been similar to that worn by young people suspected of possessing petrol bombs nearby.

The investigator concluded that there had been sufficient grounds for police to arrest him.

She also said the footage did not support the youth’s account of police having used excessive force during the arrest, nor an account of the incident provided by his father.

The investigator said the boy’s brother – who was said to have overheard the alleged abusive comments in the police Land Rover – did not respond to requests to provide a statement.

With the officer involved denying having made such comments, the investigator concluded there was insufficient evidence to uphold the allegation.