Thursday 5 December 2019

Police: Taser shocks were too much

Police say a graphic video of an unarmed man Tasered 13 times shows an unacceptable misuse of stun guns, as questions are raised about how much the devices are used in Australia.

Western Australia state police said the 2008 case was not typical of Taser use by the force, and state Premier Colin Barnett demanded a review of Taser guidelines.

The video was released on Monday, the day after a man died in Sydney after police stunned him in the chest with a Taser.

Closed-circuit video footage of the Western Australia case was released publicly when the state's crime commission introduced a report to state parliament that cited it as an example of police officers wrongfully using a stun gun.

In the video, an unarmed, dark-skinned man who refused to undergo a strip search in a Perth detention facility is shown screaming in apparent agony after being zapped with a stun gun eight times while surrounded by nine police officers. He was stunned another five times off-camera.

The commission's report said the previous actions of the man, who was not identified, indicated he was likely suffering from a mental illness and/or was affected by drugs. It did not say why the man was in police custody.

After an internal police inquiry, two senior constables were fined 1,200 Australian dollars (£725.29) and 750 Australian dollars (£453.22) for using excessive force.

The crime commission's report says Tasers are increasingly being used to force alleged offenders to comply with orders. The report recommends that stun guns only be used when there is an imminent threat of serious injury.

The report also said Aboriginal people were more likely to have a Taser used against them in Western Australia than non-Aboriginal people. It said interaction between Aborigines and police in the state was disproportionate compared to other groups, adding that there were complex reasons for this. It did not go into the reasons.

Mr Barnett said he watched the video on Monday and thought the nine officers could have restrained the man in a less extreme way.

PA Media

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