A man who was tasered by police in London and had to be rescued from the River Thames has died, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.
Police were called to Chelsea Bridge Road, west London, on Saturday morning after receiving reports that a man was armed with a screwdriver and was shouting.
When officers arrived shortly after, the Metropolitan Police said they challenged a man on Chelsea Bridge and fired a stun gun, but that “did not allow officers to safely detain him”.
The man, in his early 40s, “then entered the river,” police said, and was rescued by the RNLI, who took him to hospital, where his condition was listed as critical.
The IOPC said Sunday the man died in hospital and an independent investigation is ongoing.
Police Station Director Steve Noonan said: “We have spoken to the man’s family to express our sincere condolences and to explain our involvement. Our sympathy goes out to them at this terrible time.
“Our independent investigation into the police actions at the bridge is ongoing and we have begun to collect and review evidence.”
Video of the incident posted online shows two officers confronting the man, who falls to the ground after the stun gun is fired.
After struggling, the man gets up and runs to the side of the bridge and pulls himself over the edge before any of the officers can reach him.
Commander Alexis Boon said: “My thoughts are with the man’s family at this very difficult time. I offer you my sincere condolences on your tragic loss.
“Officers go to work every day to keep the public safe and as such any incident where a person is harmed following contact with the police is understandably a cause for concern.
“Our officers face some of the most challenging and difficult situations on a daily basis, fully aware that their actions should rightfully be subject to public scrutiny.
“The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards referred the Independent Bureau of Police Conduct immediately following this sad incident, and we will work fully with them as they work to understand the full circumstances.”
Police use of stun guns, commonly known as tasers, has been the subject of much controversy in the past. The IOPC found in February that a Met police officer who shot dead a 10-year-old girl with such a gun should face a gross misconduct trial. The officer shot the girl in south-west London after reports she threatened a woman with pruning shears and a hammer.
The following month, an officer was charged with aggravated assault after a man was tasered and paralyzed from the chest down. Officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group had stopped Jordan Walker-Brown, 25, on two consecutive days, May 3 and 4, 2020, and on both occasions he was found to be carrying a small amount of cannabis for personal use . He jumped over a wall that was four feet high on one side but fell six feet on the other side when he was hit by the taser. Then he fell over the wall.
A social worker who was tasered and knocked unconscious at a street stop last month said police treated him like a “wild animal”. Edwin Afriyie, 36, is suing the City of London Police after suffering a head injury and thoughts of suicide as a result of the incident.
The latest incident comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that special police officers would be given access to stun guns as part of a series of new criminal initiatives. Amnesty International UK’s police expert said in response that arming volunteer officers was dangerous and would inevitably lead to “more cases of Taser abuse, serious injury and death”.