Police Officer Used "Unnecessary" Force When He Tasered Man Eight Times

15 May 2019, 16:36 | Updated: 15 May 2019, 16:47

PC Schofield used a taser eight times for a total of 72 seconds.
PC Schofield used a taser eight times for a total of 72 seconds. Picture: PA

A cop who used a stungun on an autistic man with mental health issued used "unnecessary, unreasonable and inappropriate" force, a judge has found.

Michael Gilchrist, 59, was shocked with the Taser eight times by PC Samuel Schofield after officers were called to his home in Wythenshawe, Manchester in June 2014.

A neighbour alerted authorities after seeing him walking down the street wearing only his trousers, covered in blood.

Mr Gilchrist, who has autism spectrum disorder and suffers from bi-polar, had cut his hands after becoming distressed and breaking two windows.

His family say he became catatonic after the incident and have sued the force for battery and negligence.

In a High Court judgment handed down in Manchester on Wednesday, Mrs Justice O'Farrell found that PC Schofield's 72-second deployment of Taser was "unnecessary, unreasonable and inappropriate."

One shock was given while he was already on the ground, despite there being enough officers present to physically restrain him, and the judge found this would have "inflicted unnecessary pain."

She 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."

Officers claimed the man appeared aggressive and they were concerned that he may have attacked someone because of the blood.

CS spray was used twice by one officer, while his colleague PC Mark Farrell, used his Taser twice, but this had no effect.

PC Schofield then arrived and discharged his Taser twice delivering eight shocks that in total lasted 72 seconds.

The seventh shock was delivered in the controversial drive-stun mode, when the Taser is pressed against the body, and the eighth while Mr Gilchrist was on the ground.

Official advice is not to use Taser after CS spray has been deployed because it may be flammable. It is also suggested that Taser should not be used if it has already proved ineffective.

Eventually, Mr Gilchrist was physically restrained and taken to hospital.

A police officer fires a Taser in the drive stun mode.
A police officer fires a Taser in the drive stun mode. Picture: PA

The judge found that before the incident he had been "an active and sociable member of the local community" who worked as a gardener four days a week.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police 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 underway within GMP to analyse the judge's findings and to determine whether these reveal opportunities for learning and training.

"GMP has supported and will continue to support the police officers and former police officers who appeared as witnesses for the Chief Constable at the preliminary trial.

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