Drunk shoplifter who sued police for being Tasered during his arrest loses 'excessive force' case

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Paul McClelland sued the police over his arrest in 2013 (PA)

A shoplifter who sued the police after they Tasered him during his arrest has lost his bid to win damages.

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.

However, High Court Judge Jonathan Simpkiss has now dismissed the case at Brighton County Court.

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.

Mr McClelland claims being tasered left him feeling anxious and suicidal (PA)

PC Grant shouts: “Get on the floor, there is a red dot on your chest.”

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

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.”

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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.

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.

Neither party attended the hearing.

A judge dismissed the case, saying there was no evidence Mr McClelland suffered psychological trauma (PA)

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.

“I also conclude that it was objectively reasonable in the circumstances for them to do so.

“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.”

Deputy Chief Constable Bernie O’Reilly welcomed the judgement and said the scrutiny of his officers had been “rigorous”.

He added: “I want to keep people safe, and having Taser as part of our equipment is critical to enabling us to do this.”

Ms Khan described the judgment as “perverse” and “bizarre”, and said they were now considering an appeal.