Manchester

Manchester police correct to Taser epileptic fit man

An investigation into the use of Taser gun on a man who suffered an epileptic fit has cleared Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers of misconduct.

Howard Swarray, 40, was being restrained for lashing out at paramedics after having a seizure at a Manchester gym in November 2009.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) probe concluded that officers did not use excessive force.

Mr Swarray said he was "appalled" at the way he was dealt with.

Police were called to reports of a violent struggle at the Powerleague gym in Whalley Range.

Witnesses described how an apparently disorientated Mr Swarray bit, punched and kicked paramedics who were trying to restrain and treat him after he had collapsed.

'Stand him up'

The IPCC investigated Mr Swarray's complaint that the use of a Taser was inappropriate and police officers used "excessive force".

Methods used to subdue Mr Swarray included striking his arms and legs, bending his toes back and standing on his legs.

In its report, the IPCC said one officer trained in the deployment of Taser said in a radio transmission, "if he's getting aggressive, I am sure 50,000 volts will stand him up".

The officer judged the only way to allow officers to handcuff Mr Swarray was to shoot him with a Taser gun, which he did twice.

Despite this, Mr Swarray continued to act aggressively after being handcuffed, the IPCC report said.

He was later diagnosed as having suffered an epileptic seizure and, while in the recovery stage of the seizure, was not in control of his actions.

He also spent two weeks in intensive care being treated for kidney failure.

Although the IPCC report found that his kidney problems were caused by the seizure and not by the police, Mr Swarray said: "I'm appalled how they've treated me in this way, because I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was just poorly.

"I've had seizures before and never woke up in intensive care with bad injuries."

Taser review

IPCC Commissioner Ms Naseem Malik confirmed that all of the actions taken by the officers were "within their training and did not breach force policies".

She added: "It is evident from our investigation that the officers involved were responding to an incident in which a man appeared to be violently resisting attempts to deliver medical treatment."

While acknowledging that individual officers had "acted correctly," Ms Malik recommended a review of the use of Taser guns on people whose violence resulted from a medical condition.

Ms Malik also said that, while the language used by the Taser-trained officer was "inappropriate", she agreed he had considered tactical options before firing the weapon.

Det Ch Supt Dave Keller of GMP's professional standards branch defended the use of a Taser gun saying the officer's actions were "consistent with national training".

"A Taser is a very effective method of quickly subduing violent people and is less likely to cause serious injury than use of other options such as baton strikes.

"GMP will continue to follow national guidance on the use of force and encourage officers to utilise their training to minimise injuries to the public themselves and suspects."

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