A POLICE man who tasered a blind pensioner after he mistook his white stick for a samurai sword can keep his job, a hearing has decided.
The officer faced a gross incompetence hearing after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission looking into why Colin Farmer was targeted by police while walking to the pub in Chorley.
The officer faced a disciplinary hearing by a panel made up of assistant chief constable Tim Jacques, chief superintendent Richard Goodenough-Bayly and Mr Ashley Judd, the force’s head of human resources.
The panel found that the officer failed to perform his duties to a satisfactory standard on October 12, 2012, though his actions did not amount to gross incompetence.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques said: “First and foremost I would like to sincerely apologise to Mr Farmer for what happened that evening and the resulting distress and anxiety he undoubtedly suffered.
“The officer made a dreadful mistake when he discharged his Taser, but was acting on a reasonable and honestly held belief that his actions were necessary to protect the public.
“The officer did not perform his duties to a satisfactory standard but we did not feel that this amounted to gross incompetence.
“In addition to the findings relating to the individual officer this investigation has raised a number of issues for the constabulary to consider including the training given to officers carrying a Taser.”
Prior to the incident Mr Farmer had suffered two strokes. The 64-year-old was invited to the hearing but declined, fearing reliving his ordeal would not be good for him.
He said: “I don’t feel I’ve had any justice. It really doesn’t bother me what they do to the officer as I know I didn’t do anything wrong. I do welcome the fact that it gave the police the chance to consider how this type of thing can be avoided in the future but that man will just have to live with his conscience.”
At the time of the incident police were responding to reports of a man with a sword seen in Chorley town centre. Mr Farmer was Tasered at point blank range, making him fall to the ground.
Mr Farmer said he has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a neurologist in the past month.
The officer will be issued with a written improvement notice and will be required to demonstrate specific performance improvements over a set timescale. He also expressed considerable regret over this incident and arrangements will be made for him to offer a personal apology to Mr Farmer.
Mr Farmer added that civil proceedings against the force for compensation were ongoing.