Saturday 16 December 2017

Police use taser on blind man after mistaking white stick for samurai sword

A police officer demonstrates the use of a taser. Photo: Getty Images
A police officer demonstrates the use of a taser. Photo: Getty Images
(FILES) A file picture taken on December 5, 2007 in Gravesend, Kent, shows a British police officer holding a taser gun during a training session at the Metropolitan Police Specialist Training Centre. Police forces across Britain are to be equipped with Taser stun guns after a successful pilot scheme with the controversial high-voltage weapons, officials said Monday November 24, 2008. Critics argue that the guns, which deliver a 50,000-volt charge, are "potentially lethal," but the government says they are crucial and is paying for 10,000 of them to be distributed around the country. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza/FILES (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

A BLIND stroke victim said he thought he was going to die when he was shot in the back with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun by an officer who mistook his white stick for a Samurai sword.

Colin Farmer (61) collapsed to the ground in shock and believed he was having another stroke which could prove fatal.

The police blunder happened as reports were received of a man walking through the town centre of Chorley, Lancashire, in England with the martial arts weapon.

Meanwhile, Mr Farmer, who has suffered two strokes and walks at a "snail's pace", was on his way to the pub to meet friends for a drink and did not realise anything was afoot.

Mr Farmer said he heard shouting on the street but did not know what it was about and thought he was going to be attacked by "some hooligans".

He was then struck by the Taser and fell to the ground in Peter Street, and dropped his white stick on the floor, before a policeman handcuffed him.

When the mistake was realised he was taken to Chorley Hospital for treatment and was later released. The incident happened at about 5.45pm last Friday.

Speaking to ITV Granada Reports today, he said: "I was just walking along and I just heard some men shouting really angrily and I thought I'm going to get mugged. So I didn't know any police were here.

"The Taser hit me in the back and it started sending all these thousands of volts through me and I was terrified. I mean I had two strokes already caused by stress. When these volts were going through me I dropped the stick involuntarily and I collapsed on the floor face down."

He added: "I was shaking and I thought 'I'm going to have another stroke any second and this one is going to kill me. I'm being killed. I'm being killed'."

Lancashire Police apologised to Mr Farmer for the "traumatic experience" but confirmed tonight that the officer who fired the Taser has not been suspended and remains on duty.

Chief superintendent Stuart Williams, from Lancashire Police, said: "We received a number of reports that a man was walking through Chorley armed with a Samurai sword and patrols were sent to look for the man.

"One of the officers believed he had located the offender. Despite asking the man to stop, he failed to do so and the officer discharged his Taser.

"It then became apparent this man was not the person we were looking for and officers attended to him straight away.

"He was taken to Chorley Hospital by officers who stayed while he was checked over by medics. They then took him to meet his friends in Chorley at his request.

"Lancashire Constabulary deeply regrets what has happened. We have clearly put this man through a traumatic experience and we are extremely sorry.

"We have launched an urgent investigation to understand what lessons can be learned and the matter has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission."

Mr Farmer says he is taking legal action against the force and wants the officer involved charged with assault.

Press Association

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