Investigation into man tasered in front of young son 'could take six months'

24 June 2020, 20:41

An officer deployed a Taser at the man who was charged with various offences
An officer deployed a Taser at the man who was charged with various offences. Picture: Twitter

By Maddie Goodfellow

A watchdog investigation into police who Tasered a man in front of his distressed young son will take up to six months, a chief constable has said.

Ian Hopkins, who leads Greater Manchester Police (GMP), told MPs on Wednesday that probes by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) should be carried out much more quickly.

The force's arrest of Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara, 34, at a petrol station in Stretford, south Manchester, on May 6, was heavily criticised after footage was shared on social media.

The video of the arrest shows an altercation between Mr Mombeyarara and two officers before the Taser is used, on a garage forecourt in Stretford.

The 34-year-old is seen standing next to a marked police car and puts down his crying son before falling to the ground moments later as a Taser is fired by one of the officers.

The boy then becomes hysterical and screams "Daddy".

Mr Hopkins told the Home Affairs Select Committee: "In this particular case I saw that footage very early the next morning after it was made public, and I immediately referred it to the Independent Office of Police Conduct because it was very disturbing to see those few seconds there, particularly with the young child, and everything surrounding it.

"But it is only those few seconds that we have all seen, which is why there is an investigation.

Ian Hopkins leads Greater Manchester Police
Ian Hopkins leads Greater Manchester Police. Picture: PA

He continued: "One of the real issues that I've got is the length of time still that some of these investigations take. The only narrative that is out there is that short clip on social media.

"I had an update from the IOPC on June 10 that says that investigation is going to take three to six months. That was already nearly a month after it occurred.

"So I think we have to do something different in terms of being able to do these things much more quickly, in being able to get out a much more balanced narrative."

He said he is looking at ways that the force could release material through its independent ethics panel "that are able to reassure the community".

Mr Hopkins added: "If the officers in that have done wrongly, I want them disciplined and dealt with as quickly as possible.

"If they haven't and there is a different answer to the investigation, then the public need to know that as well, because otherwise it undermines confidence in policing.

"We have to do something different around the length of these investigations."

Protests have taken place outside the petrol station
Protests have taken place outside the petrol station. Picture: PA

After an uproar on social media, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham had asked GMP to carry out an urgent review and the force referred the incident to the IOPC.

Protests have also taken place outside the petrol station in Stretford where the incident took place.

An IOPC spokeswoman said: "More than 80% of our investigations are completed within 12 months.

"This case, an alleged excessive use of force on a member of the public, is making good progress - something which we have spoken about publicly. We will not apologise for being thorough and robust in our work.

"It is disappointing to hear comments being made about how long an independent investigation should take. Publishing information about an investigation, prematurely, can potentially - and very seriously - impact on the progress of the investigation and prejudice any future proceedings that may come."

The police watchdog is also investigating two separate high-profile incidents where Taser was used against black suspects, amid concerns over whether BAME people are targeted disproportionately.

Rapper Wretch 32 shared footage of his 62-year-old father being hit with a stun gun on the stairs of his London home, and later told ITV there had been "no progression" since he grew up watching his father and uncle "fight against police brutality".

The other was when Trevaile Wyse, 30, was Tasered in the throat in Birmingham.

This is one of six incidents involving West Midlands Police that are being investigated by the IOPC over claims of excessive force against black men between February 27 and May 14.