Officer who used taser on 'armed fugitive' made right decision

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By Deborah McAleese

Officers were justified in using a Taser to detain a violent fugitive who was on the run from a high-security jail, a police watchdog has said.

Armed robber Derek Brockwell was an inmate at Portlaoise Prison when he escaped from custody while attending a medical appointment at Tallaght Hospital in South Dublin in February 2015.

He stabbed two prison officers during his escape.

Brockwell fled to Belfast where he was spotted by police at the Wetherspoons pub on Bedford Street following reports from the public. He was sitting outside writing postcards.

When approached by police, he pulled up his shirt to show a knife in his waistband.

Brockwell was warned to drop the knife but instead stabbed himself in the stomach.

An officer pulled the knife out of his stomach and another officer shouted "Taser" before discharging the weapon.

Officers were then able to restrain him.

A probe by the Police Ombudsman's Office into the incident found that the officers were justified in their use of force.

Ombudsman Michael Maguire said: "The man had a knife and had stabbed two people as he escaped from prison. He was believed to be dangerous and police officers did well to spot him sitting outside a bar along one of the main roads in the city.

"The fact that this man was in a tussle with two officers, had a knife and was already believed to be dangerous gave the police officer who fired the Taser no other option if he was to protect the lives of his colleagues and prevent the man himself from further self-harm. The officer made the right decision."

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