Belfast man killed by PSNI vehicle
Belfast man killed by PSNI vehicle

A 29-year-old west Belfast man was killed in controversial circumstances at the weekend when he was hit by a PSNI police Land Rover driving at high speed.

The pedestrian, who has been named as Jim McMenamin, was struck by the vehicle on Upper Springfield Road shortly after 1am on Saturday.

Mr McMenamin, who lived in the area, died at the scene. The PSNI said the vehicle was reposnding to an emergency call.

Staff from the Police Ombudsman’s office, which routinely investigates all incidents involving loss of life where there is police involvement, examined the scene shortly after the incident took place.

“We have forensic scientists and scenes-of-crime officers at the location,” Mrs O’Loan’s spokesman said.

“The area has been videoed and photographed and any exhibits have been removed. The police vehicle has also been removed for further forensic analysis,” he said.

Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Austin said there was shock and anger in the area after the fatality.

“Local community organisations have been warning for some time that these types of PSNI high-speed chases which have become a regular feature of policing in west Belfast would result in innocent people being injured and killed.

“Unfortunately the PSNI ignored the pleas of the local community and continued with this practice.”

Tyre marks at the scene reveal that the Land Rover veered right into diagonal white lines in the middle of the road where Jim was standing. And the length of the skid marks suggest that the vehicle was travelling at more than the 30mph limit for that stretch of road.

Jim McMenamin’s family say they want an explanation for all of this - and they also want to know why the four PSNI officers were allowed to leave the scene shortly after the incident.

They claim the driver of the Land Rover was breathalysed at the nearby New Barnsley barracks and not at the scene as is the usual practice.

“We are all devastated,” said Mr McMenamin’s brother Colm. “All we want is the truth, no cover-up.

“The police who were in the Land Rover left the scene straight away. They were taken to a barracks. The driver of the jeep was taken to New Barnsley to be breathalysed but he should have been breathalysed at the scene.

“They say that they gave Jim first aid on the scene but he was killed outright. If it had been a joyrider that hit my brother, it would have been another crime if they then drove on, for leaving the scene of a crime. Those four men were able to leave the scene within five minutes,” said Colm McMenamin.

Michael Ferguson, a Sinn Féin west Belfast Assembly member, said: “Local people are very disturbed at the manner of the death, and community workers are extremely critical.

“It would be fair to say that no one has any sympathy with criminals, particularly those who injure or kill themselves recklessly driving stolen cars, but equally the community does not believe that it is appropriate behaviour for the PSNI to engage in equally reckless high-speed car chases through densely populated communities, inflicting the same risk of injury and death.”

The PSNI involvement in the death means that the Police Ombudsman’s office will carry out an investigation.

A spokesperson for the Ombudsman’s office said: “We have forensic scientists and scenes-of-the-crime officers at the location. The area has been videoed and photographed and any exhibits have been removed. The police vehicle has also been removed for further forensic analysis.”

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