If we are to believe the reports in the news this evening, the Police have approached, shouted at and then tasered a 61 year-old man in Chorley, Lancashire. Colin Farmer was allegedly mistaken for a man who had been reported walking through. the same area with a samurai sword. He was soon well enough, however, to speak to the media about his experience and an investigation has been opened by the IPCC to establish the facts of this encounter.
The facts as reported in the media are that officers were dispatched, description in hand, to locate the armed man and one of these officers located Mr Farmer. The officer is said to have challenged the man and, when he failed to comply, taken the decision to deploy his taser. There is nothing in the report about Mr Farmers actions on being challenged other than that he failed to stand still when required.
There are two possible scenarios here. An unlikely one and one that is less likely to sell papers:
This officer is a complete arse, the kind of gung-ho vigilante that the press love to expose, and the same kind of officer that uses large-scale rioting and disorder as an excuse to brutally assault members of the public with what should be an obvious heart condition.
There was something that was said or done by the person approached by the officer that meant he was considered a threat of a suitable level to consider deploying taser. Perhaps he raised the stick he was holding toward the officer, perhaps he shouted back believing it was some offensive youth giving him a load of mouth. There are many reasons why this might not have gone as those involved would have wanted – we shall have to see what the IPCC dig up over the next few months.
I can fully understand why the officer would not have wanted to get too close to the subject as a sword can extend the danger zone around someone by a number of metres at least.
It is important to understand that just because the subject is now known to be 61 and to have some degree of sight loss, none of this would have been known to the officer at the time. A 61 year-old can present just as much of a danger as a 26 year-old given the right circumstances and weapons. People are not automatically harmless once they can draw their pension.
I have been in enough houses over the years to have seen any number of apparently innocuous items that contain a blade. Walking sticks, broom handles, umbrellas and white sticks for the blind are not always as harmless as they seem.
Finally I would like to congratulate the officer in proving that in what, I believe, was perceived at the time as a high threat situation, it is possible to draw and successfully deploy a taser, neutralising a threat. Had this been a different day and the person been in possession of the weapon described, the outcome would have been an excellent one – although I doubt the press would have ever given it the coverage that this incident has attracted.
Until proved to have acted negligently, as our suspects in court expect, let us assume that this officer acted in good faith and did what he did for the right reasons and hope that the apparent victim in this makes a speedy and full recovery. This is not Tomlinson II…….