Police officers throughout England and Wales are to receive specific new training after a dad was Tasered by GMP cops on a petrol station forecourt in front of his screaming child. A watchdog has made five recommendations after an investigation into the incident – but have said officers ‘did not act in a way that justified disciplinary proceedings or commit a criminal offence’.
Footage of the moment NHS worker, Ziggy Desmond Mombeyarara, was detained by police and taken down by a cop with a Taser stun gun in front of his screaming five-year-old son was widely shared online. He was on a forecourt on Chester Road in Stretford after being clocked doing 72mph in a 30mph zone on May 6, 2020.
Mr Mombeyarara, 35, went on trial at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court in April last year and was handed an 18-month conditional discharge after being found guilty of obstructing two police officers – PCs Stephen Bielizna and Anthony Hannan. No disciplinary action was taken against the two officers, but solicitors for Mr Mombeyarara have begun a civil action against Chief Constable Stephen Watson for damages ‘in relation to excessive use of force’.
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The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched an investigation into complaints made by Mr Mombeyarara. Today it published the final report and statutory learning from the investigation.
It’s recommendations, all of which were accepted, are that:
- The College of Policing should amend national training for officers equipped with Taser to include considerations when a child is present
- GMP should review its Taser policy to provide clearer, publicly available guidance on when the devices may be used
- GMP should update local Taser training for officers to include considerations for situations where a child is present
- GMP should update its Taser policy to make clear when it might be appropriate to use the devices when a flammable substance is nearby
- GMP should take steps to ensure officers’ decision-making and policing response is not being unreasonably impacted by stereotypical assumptions about the strength and threat posed by individuals from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background
In a statement the IOPC said: “Our investigation, which concluded in May 2021, looked at nine complaints made by the man regarding the actions of officers during and after the arrest. We examined the use of force by the officers and whether the man had been treated less favorably because he is Black.
“During our investigation, we identified learning for the individual officers and the force. While the evidence did not indicate the man had been treated less favorably due to his race, we did find learning for the officers regarding frequent references to a person’s strength or size when justifying use of force as this can align to commonly held stereotypes and increase the likelihood of force being used against Black men.
“We obtained statements from the officers involved and an eyewitness and examined footage from the officers’ body-worn video, CCTV and social media. We also consulted an expert in the use of Taser for their opinion on the tactics used. The evidence did not suggest that an officer may have acted in a way that justified disciplinary proceedings or committed a criminal offence.
IOPC Regional Director Amanda Rowe said: “The public are understandably concerned about how and when Tasers are used by the police. This was highlighted in this incident, which was deeply distressing to those involved and caused significant concern within the local community.
“The disproportionate use of Taser against Black people, which is seen nationally, means it is especially important for the police to be able to justify the use of Taser in cases like this. While the evidence in this investigation showed officers had acted in accordance with the relevant policies, guidance and procedures, we identified ways the force could improve the response to similar situations in future and welcome the progress made to address them.
“It is particularly pleasing that national training for officers equipped with Tasers will now include specific learning to assist in cases where a child is present.
“There is no doubt Tasers are a valuable tool for keeping both the public and police safe in dangerous circumstances but the public needs to be reassured it is being used appropriately. Our recommendations are aimed at ensuring officers are equipped to make the right decisions and that communities can better understand them.”
In a statement, GMP said: “We acknowledge the publication of the IOPC’s report but, due to ongoing proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”