A UK man who was Tasered by the police and then fell into the River Thames has died, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said.
According to The Guardian, police officers were called on Saturday to reports of a man armed with a screwdriver shouting on Chelsea Bridge Road in London. When officers arrived, the Metropolitan police said that they had challenged the man aged in his early 40s and discharged a stun gun.
However, the cops said that the Taser “did not enable the officers to safely detain him”. The man then jumped into the river and was rescued and taken to hospital. His condition was assessed as critical at first, but the same night he died in the hospital. Now, an independent inquiry is underway.
“We have spoken to the man’s family to express our sincere condolences and explain our involvement. Our sympathies remain with them at this terrible time,” IOPC’s director, Steve Noonan, said as quoted by The Guardian. He added, “Our independent investigation is under way into the police actions at the bridge and we have begun gathering and reviewing evidence.”
Video of the incident posted online of the incident shows two police officers confronting the man, who falls to the ground after the stun gun is discharged. As the man struggled to get up, he is again Tasered by the cops and also a third time as he tried to pull himself up from the road. The man then gets up and runs to the side of the bridge and pulls himself over the edge before either officer can reach him.
As per the Independent, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew was scrambled to rescue the man and he was rushed to the hospital, where he died.
“Investigators have secured police body-worn video footage and initial accounts have been obtained from the officers involved. The Taser used has also been gathered and will be analysed. Investigators have overseen forensic examination of the scene,” the IOPC said in a statement.
In the past, police use of stun guns, commonly known as Tasers, has been subject of numerous controversies. As per The Guardian, the latest incident comes as the UK home secretary Priti Patel announced that special constables will be given access to stun guns as part of a range of new crime initiatives. But in response experts have said that arming volunteer officers was dangerous and would inevitably lead to “more instances of misuse, serious harm and death from Tasers”.