Wythenshawe Taser use 'unnecessary and unreasonable'

Michael GIlchrist Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Michael Gilchrist was stunned with a Taser eight times by a Greater Manchester Police officer

Police used "unreasonable and inappropriate" force when they Tasered a man with autism and bipolar disorder who officers claimed was "aggressive", a High Court judge has found.

Michael Gilchrist was shocked eight times over 72 seconds by PC Samuel Schofield in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

Mrs Justice O'Farrell found one shock, given while he was on the ground, would have "inflicted unnecessary pain".

The 59-year-old's family said he has become catatonic since the incident.

His mother Novlyn Graham claimed Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers "did not see beyond the colour of Michael's skin".

'Not justified'

Officers had been called to Mr Gilchrist's home in June 2014 after a neighbour saw him in the street, covered in blood.

Two GMP officers said on arrival he appeared "aggressive". CS spray was used twice, and PC Mark Farrell then used his Taser, with no effect.

PC Schofield arrived and discharged his Taser, delivering the seventh shock in the drive-stun mode, when the Taser is pressed against the body.

Official advice is not to use Taser after CS spray because it may be flammable and Taser should not be used if it has already proved ineffective.

'Verbally mute'

In a High Court judgment, Mrs Justice O'Farrell said: "PC Schofield's use of Taser was not justified and the extent of the force used, namely eight cycles for a cumulative period of 72 seconds, was not justified.

"This deployment of Taser was unnecessary, unreasonable and inappropriate."

Mr Gilchrist's family has sued GMP for battery and negligence.

His mother added: "Michael did not die that day, but in many ways, he has been taken from us, his family. He is no longer able to communicate and he is largely verbally mute.

"Michael had a quality of life before he came into contact with Greater Manchester Police and he has suffered life-changing injuries as a result of that contact."

A GMP spokesman said the use of CS spray, initial two uses of Taser by PC Farrell and physical restraint of Mr Gilchrist were all proportionate.

He added: "Work is already under way within GMP to analyse the judge's findings and to determine whether these reveal opportunities for learning and training.

"The civil claim is expected to continue to allow for the examination of medical causation and the assessment of loss and damage."

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