Man Tasered during arrest loses 'excessive force' damages case against police


A shoplifter who sued police after being Tasered has lost his case.

Paul McClelland was hit with the stun gun by a Sussex Police officer after being arrested in a Brighton car park on July 5 2013.

The 42-year-old sought damages, claiming officers used excessive force, and said the incident had left him feeling anxious and suicidal.

His solicitor, Sophie Khan, said he brought the case against Chief Constable Giles York because he claimed he was Tasered unreasonably when he was surrendering and moving backwards to be handcuffed.

Man Tasered in Brighton
Footage from Sussex Police shows a Taser being aimed at Mr McClelland who is stripped to the waist in a car park in Brighton (Sussex Police/PA)

High Court Judge Jonathan Simpkiss dismissed the case at Brighton County Court on Thursday.

Footage from a camera worn by Police Constable Charlotte Grant shows Mr McClelland stripped to the waist in the private car park in Cavendish Place, Brighton.

Pc Grant shouts: "Get on the floor, there is a red dot on your chest."

Mr McClelland is seen taking a boxer stance before starting to walk backwards towards her with his arms held out at either side of his body.

Paul McClelland legal action
Mr McCelland is shot with the Taser while another officer kicks him in the leg (Sussex Police/PA)

She then shouts: "Taser, taser, taser" as the high voltage instrument discharges. Mr McClelland begins to fall to the ground as another officer, Police Constable Richard Penrose - who is now a Sergeant - kicks him in the leg.

The footage then shows Pc Grant saying: "There are two barbs in your back which will be removed. There will be no lasting effects from the Taser."

He is then handcuffed and Pc Grant asks how he is feeling.

Mr McClelland was handed a community order in September 2013 after admitting theft, common assault and obstructing a police officer.

Paul McClelland legal action
Mr McClelland is handcuffed and asked how he is feeling (Sussex Police/PA)

The force rejected his claim and said Mr McClelland was drunk, aggressive and a danger to officers and the public. An internal investigation found no evidence of misconduct.

Judge Simpkiss handed down a written judgment which said: "I conclude that the officers honestly and reasonably believed that it was necessary to apply a Taser to the claimant and bring him to the floor with a leg strike.

"The claimant was not in fact seriously injured as a result of the actions of the officers.

"He also alleged he had suffered psychological trauma. This, he says, was caused by his feeling of humiliation at being Tasered in public and his anxiety is caused by knowing everyone has seen online footage of the incident. There is no medical evidence to support this contention.

"I therefore dismiss the claim."

Ms Khan said the judgment was "perverse" and "bizarre".

Speaking to the Press Association after the hearing, she said: "Paul is very disappointed.

Paul McClelland legal action
Paul McClelland was given a community order after admitting three offences but later sought damages, claiming officers had used excessive force (Sussex Police/PA)

"The findings don't make any sense compared to the evidence.

"If you look at the CCTV, the man has his arms in the air in a surrender pose. But the judge says he is not surrendering."

Another hearing is scheduled to take place at a later date to determine any outstanding matters.

McClelland has 21 days after this hearing to lodge an appeal if he wishes to do so.

Deputy Chief Constable Bernie O'Reilly welcomed the judgment and said the scrutiny of his officers had been "rigorous".