A vulnerable Derry man has been left fighting for his life after the PSNI used CS nerve spray against him before shooting him at point-blank range.
A member of the PSNI is said to have received cuts from a kitchen knife during the incident last Saturday night, April 17, but there has been no explanation yet for why the PSNI opened fire on a man who was standing alone in his own home.
Lawyer Ciaran Shiels said the family wanted to know exactly what happened in the flat in the Gobnascale area where their brother, aged in his 40s, lived alone. The lawyer said the family wished to know why one PSNI man felt CS spray was the appropriate way of dealing with the situation while a second officer felt it was right to shoot their brother.
The incident began with a late night raid on the working class nationalist community of Top of the Hill by a large influx of armoured Crown Force cars and jeeps. As residents began to gather, a single gunshot was heard, followed by the arrival of more Crown Force personnel and medical assistance.
Confusion has lingered over what then transpired in the flat. The PSNI said one of their members received “knife wounds” in the incident, and announced that they had arrested the shooting victim on charges of attempted murder.
Mr Shiels said there were a number of confusing issues surrounding the incident, including an account that the PSNI were present in the victim’s home for 12 hours before the shooting incident was reported.
Mr Shiels said: “It’s been a very distressing time for the whole family.”
“What the family want to know is what was the exact nature of the confrontation that took place with officers?” he told BBC Radio.
The incident is being investigated by the Police Ombudsman’s office which has confirmed that the shooting victim’s family have now lodged an official complaint with them about the PSNI’s actions.
Sinn Féin assembly member, Martina Anderson said she had been “shocked” by the shooting and expressed her “grave concerns” over the use of “lethal force”.
“The PSNI needs to provide the public with a full explanation about this shooting of a vulnerable man,” she said.
Saoradh said the attack showed that history of the early 1970s was repeating itself.
“Many people have witnessed, over the past number of weeks, the rise in militant loyalism.
“Loyalists have wreaked havoc within their own communities while also attempting to target Republican communities and innocent Catholics across the Occupied Six Counties.
“In turn, British Crown Forces in an attempt to deflect attention, targeted Republican activists and young people. Having largely failed in their attempts to goad young Nationalist and Republican youth into conflict, it appears that history is now repeating itself with British Crown Forces shooting innocent members of the Nationalist community.”
Meanwhile, a claim of responsibility has been made in the name of the New IRA for an explosive device found over 24 hours later outside the home of a female member of the PSNI in nearby Dungiven, County Derry.
The device was described as viable. It is not clear if the two incidents, which took place 18 miles apart, are related.
In a statement the breakaway armed group said it planted the device which was attached to a fuel container, and said it would continue to target members of the Crown Forces.
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly condemned the attack. “Thankfully she wasn’t hurt but we could have been facing a very different scenario,” he said.
“This could have seriously injured or killed this young woman or anyone in the nearby area. At a time of increased community tensions this is the last thing that anyone wants to see.
“Those behind this reckless attack have absolutely nothing to offer society but more suffering and they have shown a callous disregard for the entire community. They need to bring their futile actions to an end.”