LATEST: Gardai launch investigation into Dublin pepper spray incident
A Garda superintendent from outside the district has been appointed to look into an incident involving a video appearing to show a garda using pepper spray on a homeless man in Dublin.
The footage that was posted online has drawn criticism from homeless support organisations.
The minute long video shows a garda standing over a handcuffed man lying on the ground. When the man attempts to move, the garda pushes him back and then holds a small canister close to his face.
The investigation will focus on whether the garda used pepper spray on the man at this point. Garda sources said the video does not prove the spray was actually used. But it if was used on the handcuffed individual, it would likely amount to unacceptable force.
The incident was filmed by Philip Campion, a student, on Friday, March 13th.The homeless man is in handcuffs when the video begins, suggesting he had been arrested before Mr Campion started recording.
It is unclear what events preceded the video but it has been reported that the garda’s pepper spray canister was taken, then recovered and used on the homeless man prior to his arrest.
The video was posted widely on social media websites . Homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said he found it “absolutely shocking” .
The Garda press office said it would not comment on the specifics of the case while an investigation was ongoing.
A spokesman for the force said gardaí would like to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident. The press office said all available evidence will be gathered, indicating gardaí will seek to view CCTV footage from the surrounding area.
Gsoc said it would examine the video footage and decide later in the week whether to open an investigation.
Mr Campion, the DIT student who filmed the incident on his way home from college, said something about the scene “didn’t look right”.
He said the garda appeared to be trying to move the man who was in a sleeping bag and lying down in a doorway on Henry Street.
By the time he started filming “about 25-30 people had gathered” and some began to call on the garda to take his foot off the homeless man. In the video the garda warns them to go away “for your own safety”.
Mr Campion said at this point he began to “feel scared” and stopped recording and prepared to go. As he departed two squad cars and a van arrived, he said.