PSNI vehicle death ruled 'accidental'

Published Monday, 24 February 2014
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A man who died after he was hit by a police Land Rover nine years ago ran in front of the vehicle for a "joke" while it was responding to an emergency call out, a coroner has said.

PSNI vehicle death ruled 'accidental'
Mr McMenamin's death was found to be accidental. (© UTV)

James McMenamin, 29, from Glenalina Road, died after he was knocked down by a PSNI Land Rover on the Springfield Road in west Belfast in June 2005.

He was walking home from a birthday party at Gort Na Mona GAA Club when he ran out onto the road in attempt to flag the Land Rover down, which was coming from New Barnsley station.

The vehicle was travelling at 47mph in a 30mph zone as police officers were making their way to assist colleagues who had become trapped by a hostile crowd. The speed was within police guidelines of 55mph maximum.

"His act of running on to the road in front of the police Land Rover to flag it down was an impulsive one and was intended as a joke," Coroner Suzanne Anderson said.

"Unfortunately his judgment was severely impaired as he was quite heavily intoxicated by alcohol.

"He misjudged the situation and was struck by the police vehicle, sustaining fatal injuries. I am satisfied that his death was accidental and that he did not intend to take his own life."

The married hydraulic engineer suffered multiple injuries in the collision.

In the coroner's written findings, she said she was satisfied after reviewing CCTV footage and a police radio transmission that the vehicle's headlights, blue flashing lights and siren were all on while it was in transit.

She also accepted evidence that the driver had braked hard and swerved in an effort to avoid Mr McMenamin but failed.

A taxi driver who witnessed the accident said: "The police jeep swerved to the right going up the hill and there was a screech and I got the impression that the driver of the jeep was trying to avoid the man."

Mr McMenamin was described as having been in "extremely good form" on leaving the party at around 1am and the coroner was satisfied he was not in any distress or difficulty.

"Similarly, there is no rational explanation for him attempting to cross the road at that point as, firstly, it was out of his way for walking home, secondly, there was no footpath on the other side of the road, and thirdly, there was no commercial outlet open on the other side of the road at that time of night," Ms Anderson added.

"I accept the driver's evidence that he did not drive at or above 55mph and that he did not drive faster than was justified for the serious emergency to which he was responding."

She found that the cause of death was multiple injuries.

© UTV News
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