“Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by police ~
some of them with Tasers.
I could not believe what was going on.
I was told to put down the weapon.
It’s not a weapon.
It’s a spatula.”
Taser officers swoop on disabled man armed with ’spatula’
August 1, 2009
A PARTIALLY disabled man who uses a spatula-type knife to open his mail was flabbergasted when police surrounded him on a Torquay street and ordered him to hand over his ‘offensive weapon’.
Furious Steve Gardner, who was waiting outside his St Marks Road home for some post, claimed after his surprise confrontation with the law: “It was just a spatula. It’s something you use to ice a cake.
“It’s not an offensive weapon. I don’t have full use of my hands so I need it to open my letters, put on my shoes and scratch my back.”
But police insisted after the incident on Wednesday afternoon the object seized was a customised bread knife which was effectively an offensive weapon.
Insp Jon Perry said: “It was very fortunate the person was not arrested for being in possession of such an instrument. By having it in a public place it was an offensive weapon.
“We took the view it was not in the public interest for him to be detained, although he was abusive and confrontational.
“But we did confiscate the item, which we considered to be a bread knife with the serrated edges removed and sharpened.”
He said the incident happened as officers were searching for a parcel delivery van which had just been stolen in the area.
He confirmed some officers at the scene were armed with Taser electric shock guns, which were not used.
Steve, 55 and an unemployed salesman, said a neck injury had left him with only partial use of his hands.
He said: “I was just an innocent bystander on a street corner waiting for my ex-landlord to bring me mail from my old address.
“I use the spatula to open my letters. It’s also used as a shoe horn and to scratch my back.
“Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by police ~ some of them with Tasers. I could not believe what was going on. I was told to put down the weapon. It’s not a weapon. It’s a spatula.”
He admitted there was a ‘heated exchange’ between him and the police.
He added: “Of course I was angry. Who wouldn’t be? I think the police made a mistake. They didn’t arrest me because I’d done nothing wrong.”
He hoped his spatula would be returned because it was on the inventory of the flat he’d just moved into.