Lawyers Say Legal Action Demonstrates Seriousness Of Taser Use On Innocent Man
An elderly blind man who was Tasered when police mistook him and his white stick for a drunk wielding a samurai sword is set to continue his battle for justice, it was reported today.
Leading public law experts who specialise in such cases have said the former architect’s decision to pursue legal action against the Lancashire Force for false imprisonment, assault and breach of human rights was indicative of the seriousness of the incident.
The news comes on the same day an announcement was made that the number of Tasers issued to police across the Thames Valley is to more than double.
Officers shot Colin Farmer, 63 with a 50,000 volt Taser Gun in October last year after believing his white stick was a samurai sword. He was hit while police were following up reports of a man walking through Chorley, Lancashire, with a sword.
Expert civil liberties lawyer at law firm Irwin Mitchell Yogi Amin, who called for a thorough investigation at the time of incident, has previously raised concerns about police use of Tasers. He said: “This was a horrific case in which it appears that an innocent and vulnerable victim has been wrongly targeted with an extremely dangerous device.
“The fact that Mr Farmer has decided to pursue a claim against the police demonstrates the serious impact that this mistaken identity has had on an innocent man’s life. It is now imperative that through the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation lessons are learnt.”
Lancashire police’s Chief Superintendent Stuart Williams said the force deeply regretted the incident and that the Taser Gun had been withdrawn from the officer.
Mr Farmer, who has suffered two strokes and is registered blind, had thought he was being attacked by thugs as he was walking to a pub to meet friends. The shock forced him to fall to the ground.
Yogi Amin added: “It is crucial that the police provide assurances that officers are being properly training and that the responsibilities of when and how they should deploy Tasers are clearly explained.
“This incident raises concern yet again that officers may be using them in situations when they may not be suitable.
“Victims of unwarranted Taser Gun attacks can suffer serious physical and psychological injuries that can have a long lasting impact so it is important that their use is appropriate.”
A 27-year-old man carrying a samurai sword was later arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.
A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles causing "neuromuscular incapacitation". Someone struck by a Taser experiences stimulation of his or her sensory nerves and motor nerves, resulting in strong involuntary muscle contractions.