Man tasered after throwing shears and starting house fire

John Macdonald was tasered twice during a stand-off with police at a house in the Highlands.

Taser: John Macdonald threw a TV at officers.
Taser: John Macdonald threw a TV at officers.

A police officer tasered a man who threw a pair of garden shears at him and set a house on fire in the Highlands.

The officer took action during a stand-off with John Macdonald, 42, at a house in Balintore, Easter Ross, during August last year.

In a report by Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc), the officer’s actions have now been deemed “proportionate and necessary”.

Police were called to the property on August 1 after Macdonald’s mum phoned 999 at around 5pm to report he had damaged her home and was threatening violence.

Officers tasered Macdonald twice after he refused to show them his hands.

Firearms officers were told to attend the scene “discretely armed”, place a cordon around the property, negotiate with Macdonald and enter if necessary.

However, the Pirc investigation found they went to the scene shortly after 7pm “visibly armed” and Macdonald was “aggressive and hostile” towards them.

He smashed a living room window with a golf club, showering them with glass.

He refused to drop the club and he then threw a dart, narrowly missing the officers.

At 8.30pm, police noticed Macdonald had started a fire at the bottom of the staircase in the home and they decided to enter, put the fire out and arrest him.

When they went in the house he hurled various items at them from the top of the stairs, including a television, garden shears and a metal pole.

Officers threw a flashbang grenade into the upstairs hallway as a distraction before going upstairs to find Macdonald sitting on a bed.

They pointed an automatic assault weapon and a Taser at him, ordering him to show his hands to check for weapons.

When he refused he was tasered and fell to the floor.

He again failed to show his hands and was tasered a second time before doing so, the Pirc report added.

Macdonald was arrested and later pleaded guilty at Inverness Sheriff Court to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.

Police conduct during the incident was referred to the watchdog as it involved the use of a weapon.

The Pirc investigation report states: “Following the man failing to comply with instructions to show his hands to ensure he was not in possession of a weapon, the use of taser to bring the incident to a rapid conclusion was necessary and proportionate.”

The investigation recommended the firearms officers are reminded they are required to seek approval for any variation to agreed tactics, which Police Scotland has done.

Head of specialist services, chief superintendent Louise Skelton said: “I welcome the PIRC findings confirming that officers’ actions were proportionate and necessary.

“On a daily basis, officers are attending volatile and violent incidents and the use of force to resolve these matters will be carefully considered, and only used when absolutely necessary.

“The professional response to this volatile situation has ensured that the man involved did not come to any harm and he could not put the public or officers at further risk.”


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