Plymouth burns death Taser policeman avoids prosecution

Andrew Pimlott
Image caption Andrew Pimlott died in hospital five days after being Tasered

A police officer who Tasered a petrol-soaked man who then caught fire and died will not face criminal charges.

He was being investigated for gross negligence manslaughter and misconduct in a public office over Andrew Pimlott's death in Plymouth last year.

Mr Pimlott, 32, who had poured petrol over himself, appeared to being holding a lit match at the time he was Tasered.

There was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute the officer, the CPS said. He still faces police disciplinary action.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said there was a case to answer for gross misconduct. If this was proved, the officer would lose his job.

IPCC associate commissioner Tom Milsom said: "This has been a complex investigation.

"We felt there was sufficient evidence to refer a file to the CPS but, in light of their decision, we have informed Mr Pimlott's family of our findings."

'Very difficult circumstances'

Sally Walsh, of the CPS special crime division, said: "Whilst we cannot know whether Mr Pimlott intended to set himself alight, seeing him douse himself in petrol and holding what appeared to be a lighted match, it was reasonable for the officer to conclude that he intended to.

"It appears from the evidence that the officer did the best he could in what were clearly very difficult circumstances and that he was faced with a choice of either standing back to allow Mr Pimlott to set himself alight or taking the somewhat lesser risk of applying the Taser in an effort to stop him doing so.

"We have advised the IPCC that no further criminal action should be taken."

Two Devon and Cornwall officers were called to the house at about 21:00 BST on 18 April 2013 after reports from a member of the public about a man with a can of flammable liquid.

The IPCC said a Taser, which delivers a 50,000-volt electrical charge into targets to incapacitate them, was fired during the incident. Mr Pimlott died in hospital five days later.

Nigel Rabbitts, chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: "Every police officer has to make split decisions. It's always better to do something, than nothing."

Devon and Cornwall Police said it would "progress an internal disciplinary procedure".

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