A police officer who tasered a blind man because he mistook his white stick for a samurai sword will not face any criminal action, the Crown Prosecution Service has revealed. Colin Farmer who is registered blind was walking to meet friends in Chorley, Lancashire last year when he was tasered to the ground by the officer.
Mr Farmer, 63, is ‘stunned’ the man responsible will not face charges, but it relieved the case has been resolved since the incident last October.
The victim was hit by a 50,000 volt Taser after reports were received of a man walking through the town centre in with a martial arts weapon.
Mr Farmer, who is registered blind after suffering two strokes and walks at a ‘snail’s pace’, was on his way to a pub to meet friends for a drink and did not realise anything was wrong until the officer tasered him.
He said he heard shouting on the street but did not know what it was about, and initially thought he was going to be attacked by ‘some hooligans’.
He was then struck by the gun which releases electric currents to stun muscles, and fell to the ground in Peter Street, dropping his white stick before a policeman handcuffed him.
When the mistake was realised he was taken to Chorley Hospital for treatment and was later released.
An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission has now been completed.
After a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service a decision was made not to press charges against the officer.
Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of CPS Special Crime Division, said: ‘On The basis of the evidence provided, including CCTV footage and police log record, I have determined that no charges should be brought against the officer.
‘The circumstances are unusual because the officer was acting on the basis of erroneous reports from members of the public that the victim was carrying a samurai sword.
‘Anyone accused of an assault who may have acted under a mistaken belief as to the facts must be judged on the facts as they believed them to be.
‘In addition, police officers are entitled to use reasonable force in order to effect an arrest and where the officer is under a mistaken belief as to the facts the question is whether, in the circumstances as he believed them to be, the force was reasonable.
‘The officer has been informed by the police control room that they had received reports that a man was walking around the streets of Chorley carrying a sword.
‘It appears the reflective nature of the stick used as a walking aid by the victim, who is partially sighted, led members of the public to mistake it for a weapon.
‘The officer, who was acting on this misinformation, made the same mistake.
‘Having considered all the evidence in this case, I do not consider there is sufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that the suspect did not believe that the man he saw, in a busy town centre with people nearby, was carrying a sword.
‘The evidence also suggested the victim did not respond to the officer’s challenge.
‘While the officer was completely mistaken (and the victim wholly innocent of any suggestion of any offence) I do not consider the action taken by the officer in the circumstances as he mistakenly believed them to be were unreasonable and I have therefore concluded that no charges should be brought.’
Mr Farmer said: ‘In a strange way I’m relieved, simply because these things can go on so long.
‘At last I feel there is some progress being made.I’m bemused by it, but I just want this to move forward.
‘There is no doubt what the police said themselves – I’ve been put through a terrible ordeal. I’ve been through a living nightmare.’
Mr Farmer lodged a claim for damages against Lancashire police in January.