09 January 2006

Gun was pulled on kids: claim


by Evan Short

The PSNI have denied that one of their officers drew a loaded weapon on a group of children who were playing football in a West Belfast street.

The PSNI had been called to Springmadden Court to assist in the sectioning of a man under the Mental Health Act on Friday night, and it was then that resident Raymond Walker says he saw the officer draw his weapon.

“My son Raymond was out playing football with friends when the Land Rovers came into the street. One Land Rover came into the court and the other parked at the entrance where the children were playing. That’s when the driver of the vehicle got out and pulled his weapon, pointing it at the children.

Another two then got out of the Land Rover with their batons drawn.”
The Land Rovers then withdrew, returning to the street when the doctor arrived.

“When they came back a policewoman got out and I approached her explaining what had happened. She began to defend the man who had drawn his handgun and said it was CS spray. I don’t know how she could say this because she wasn’t there to see it and I was.”

Raymond’s 12-year-old son, also called Raymond, spoke of how scared he was after the incident.

“I was very frightened and started crying when he took out his gun. I don’t like coming out to play anymore.”

Lorraine Matthews, whose 11-year-old son Ciarán was also playing in the street at the time, said she was livid at how the PSNI had behaved.

“The kids can’t play in the street anymore because they are so scared. They were doing no harm, they were just playing football. Is it going to be like this from now on? The gun could have gone off, it just doesn’t bear thinking about,” she said.

Sinn Féin councilor for the area, Marie Cush, said that she would be contacting the Police Ombudsman’s office about the incident.

“I am calling on the PSNI officer involved to be suspended and also the female officer who defended him when she was in no position to do so.

“Residents and children who live in this street have been traumatised over what happened and it could have been a lot worse.

“Serious questions have to be asked about the PSNI drawing firearms and batons when they are under no threat at all,” she said.

A PSNI spokesman said, “Police were called to assist medical staff at Springmadden Court on Friday night.

“When they arrived they were heavily bricked and bottled. No firearms were drawn.”

Journalist:: Evan Short

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