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Blind man Tasered when police mistake white stick for samurai sword

Colin Farmer was going to meet friends for a drink at a U.K. pub when police started shouting at him

Colin Farmer, 61 and blind, was walking to meet friends for a drink at a U.K. pub when the next thing he knew, he was shocked with 50,000 volts from a stun gun and lay helplessly on the ground.

The police are calling this a bizarre case of mistaken identity after they received reports of an armed man walking around the area with a samurai sword and must have mistaken Farmer's white visual aid stick for a sword.

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"I certainly didn't know they were police - and I certainly didn't know they were shouting at me," Farmer told the Lancashire Evening Post. "I thought I was going to be attacked by some hooligans. The next thing they fired a Taser at me, though I didn't know it was a Taser at the time."

He felt a thump in his back and immediately collapses to the ground. He shouted at police that he was blind, but they cuffed him in such a rough manner than he got bruises.

"The whole thing was like being trapped in a nightmare," he said to the Post. "I was absolutely terrified. I thought any second I'm going to have another stroke and this one will kill me."

Farmer became blind after a stroke in 2008 that also left him partially paralyzed. He and the police see the attack differently.

"It then became apparent that this man was not the person we were looking for and officers attended to him straight away," said Chief Superintendent Stuart Williams in a statement. "Lancashire Constabulary deeply regrets what happened. We have clearly put this man through a traumatic experience and we are extremely sorry for that."

Farmer told the Daily Mail the officer was more of a "thug with a license to carry a dangerous weapon" and believes he should be fired.

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This incident should sound familiar to Canadians, as just more than five years ago Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died after being hit with a stun gun at Vancouver International Airport. Dziekanski didn't speak English and police hit him when he began displaying erratic behaviour. But since then, Taser use in B.C. has declined 87 per cent, according to a new report.

The U.K. however, is going in the opposite direction. Police used Tasers 45 per cent more in 2011 as compared to 2010 and the Police Federation is requesting that every front-line officer have access to one.

The incident is under further investigation by an independent police watchdog and the officer who fired the Taser has not been suspended.

Police did later arrest a 27-year-old man in connection with the sword reports, but released him without charge.

Maybe this will be the incident to teach police to better use their Tasers in the U.K. as the Dziekanski one did in B.C.

(CP photo)

With files from Reuters

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