Derry video: Investigation into claim police left woman in bus lay-by
- 19 March 2014
The Police Ombudsman is investigating mobile phone video that appears to show police officers leaving an incapacitated woman in a bus lay-by.
The two officers drove off after the incident, which happened in John Street, Londonderry, on 17 March.
The BBC has obtained CCTV footage that also shows the moments leading up to the controversial incident.
The officers in the mobile phone video have been identified, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Two investigators have been appointed.
In a statement, Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said he had viewed the footage and has begun an investigation into the incident.
The additional footage of the same incident, this time from a different angle shows a man, who is believed to be the partner of the woman, being taken away by police shortly before the controversial incident.
The young woman can be seen running at the police car as officers detain her partner.
The officers are again seen moving the woman from the side of the vehicle to the bus lay-by before they get into the car and then leave the scene.
A short time later, a number of people come out of a business and help the woman inside.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said "at a first view" the police were seriously concerned.
Mr Hamilton said the behaviour, was "well below the standards we expect from our officers in dealing with vulnerable people whether the vulnerability is due to alcohol or anything else".
"This is a bad day for confidence in policing," said Mr Hamilton.
"It was horrendous. There was a build up to this incident from ten to 15 minutes previous.
"Our job is to keep people safe it didn't look to me like we were doing that.
"Suspension will be a consideration but the police are awaiting ombudsman recommendations."
Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted that the video was "totally unacceptable".
He said it showed two police officers "failing to ensure the safety of an incapacitated woman on a public roadway".
Sinn Féin met the police on Wednesday to discuss the incident.
PSNI Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin said: "As soon as we saw it we referred it to the ombudsman.
"On occasion, when officers are investigated because of a breach of standards, there a number of things that can be done. They could be suspended or repositioned depending on the investigation.
"I expect my officers to do their upmost to serve the community."
Sean McCallion, who filmed the video said: "They (the police) lifted her and dragged her onto the bus lane. They didn't drag her onto the footpath, which was about three feet away. They drove away.
"Somebody helped straight after I stopped the video. I was shocked whenever I saw the police drive away. She could have been run over or anything."
Derry Sinn Féin councillor Elisha McCallion said it was one of the "most shocking videos" she had seen in "terms of PSNI behaviour".
"Any normal, right-thinking person would have thought that what would have happened was the police would have taken her out of harm's way, but what actually happens after is something which can only be described as disgusting," she said.
"Two members of the police come out of the car. They lift the young lady and instead of taking her to safety, they move her about two feet to the left and leave her lying in a bus lane.
"They then get back into the car and drive away to leave the girl to fend for herself, which obviously she wasn't able to do.
"Thankfully, what wasn't shown in the video, but what we do know from the people who actually recorded the video, is that two young men came to her aid."
Ms McCallion said the PSNI had shown no "duty of care" to the young girl and said "serious questions need to be answered at the highest level possible".
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Policing Board, which holds the PSNI to account, said: "Whilst the circumstances surrounding this incident are not yet clear, video footage of the police response raises questions of the most serious nature.
"The board and the public rightly expect the highest professional standards of all of our police officers and anything that falls short of that is simply unacceptable.
"The board has been informed by the PSNI that the matter has been referred to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation."