Sunday, August 16, 2015

I called the police to calm my son - but he died after they tasered him: Grieving mother's plea to Theresa May over 'Robocop' stun guns

Taser used for no known reason

It began as no more than a neighbourhood dispute. Yet within two hours of a call to the police, a 23-year-old man lay dead, struck in the chest by 50,000 volts.

According to an inquest, the death of Jordon Begley is the first recorded killing with a police Taser in Britain.

And now his grieving mother – speaking for the first time since the incident – is demanding to know why what should have been a routine police visit escalated into what she describes as ‘a scene from a Robocop movie’.

The inquest heard how the tragic events unfolded on a summer’s evening in July 2013 after Jordon returned home from work to the terraced house where he lived with his mother, Dot.

Jordon began rowing with neighbours, who accused him of stealing money and said they had called police. One said he was sending five men over to beat him up.

Mrs Begley, 48, dialled 999, believing her son was in danger and that the police would be able to help him. She recalled: ‘Jordon walked into the kitchen and picked up a vegetable knife. I told the police he had a knife and men were coming to the house.

‘I was still on the phone when we heard police sirens. Jordon threw the knife down and we walked out to the garden.’

After a conversation with two officers, the factory worker agreed to go back into his house in Gorton, Manchester, with one of them to explain the argument.

Mrs Begley told another officer that six weeks beforehand her son had had tests on his heart. Her warning was not passed on.

For reasons that are still unexplained, one of the PCs fired a nine-second Taser shot at Jordon’s chest. Jordon, who weighed 10st [140lb] , was then restrained by other officers, handcuffed and put face-down on the floor.

When it became apparent that he was not responding, he was rushed to hospital. When Mrs Begley got there she was told he had died.

It took nearly two years for the full horror of the day to emerge at Jordon’s inquest, which was finally held in June.

The inquest jury concluded that while an initial Taser shock did not cause his heart to stop, its use and the restraint used ‘more than materially contributed’ to a package of stressful factors leading to his fatal cardiac arrest.

Jordon’s alcoholism and cannabis use contributed to his state of health at the time of his death, the inquest heard.

The jury added that police officers were ‘more concerned about their own welfare’ than Jordon’s.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has investigated 11 cases in which a person died after being hit by a Taser since their introduction in 2003 but this was the first inquest to rule that a Taser was responsible for a death. It is expected to have a wide-ranging impact on the future use of Tasers.

Home Office figures show Taser use has increased by more than 200 per cent since their introduction, and a tenth of officers are now armed with one. Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a review of Taser data and use of force.

Greater Manchester Police restricted the operational duties of the officers involved in the case following the inquest.

Mrs Begley said: ‘This is not about closure. It’s about making sure that no one else ever has to go through this. The only way that can happen is a fundamental review of Taser training guidelines.’

A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission said in a statement: ‘We believed the officers acted correctly and generally in line with their training.’

Original report here

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