WA police under fire over Taser use
The report says Tasers are increasingly being used to impose compliance rather than as an alternative to firearms. (Getty)
The tasering of a man 13 times in a Perth watchhouse as nine officers stood by was totally unacceptable, West Australian Police say.
In a report tabled in state parliament on Monday, WA's Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) said the August 2008 incident highlighted police officers' wrongful use of the stun gun.
The incident, recorded on video footage, has been condemned by Premier Colin Barnett as an excessive use of force and a major breach of procedure that must prompt a review of Taser guidelines.
The CCC report says Tasers are increasingly being used to impose compliance by alleged offenders rather than as an alternative to firearms to reduce injury, as intended.
It also says the majority of Taser use by officers is reasonable but the weapon is being used increasingly against people resisting arrest and disproportionately against Aboriginal people.
The CCC recommends Tasers only be used when there is an imminent threat of serious injury.
In the 2008 incident in the East Perth Watchhouse, an Aboriginal man who refused to undergo a strip search was tasered eight times while surrounded by nine officers. He was tasered a further five times off camera.
Following the incident, police held an internal inquiry and two senior constables were fined $1,200 and $750 for using undue and excessive force.
After viewing the video footage on Monday, Mr Barnett told reporters he was disturbed by the officers' actions.
"It was excessive use of a Taser that could not be justified.
"I think anyone seeing that footage would find it totally unacceptable."
The premier said he thought that "nine fit young men" could have restrained the man in a more appropriate manner.
It was a major breach of procedure that could not be swept under the carpet and should prompt a review of guidelines, he said.
Acting Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the force was not proud of what happened.
"It was wrong, it's unacceptable, it was alarming when I looked at it and it'll be alarming when the public view it."
Full Article - SBS News AU
SMH - Sydney Morning Herald
Knife-wielding teen shot dead by police
December 12, 2008 - 9:35AM
Latest: Search and rescue unit officers are scouring the area of last night's fatal police shooting of a teenager in a Melbourne park with metal detectors.
The body of the 15-year-old boy shot and killed by police officers after he approached them wielding knives has reportedly been removed from All Nations Park in Northcote.
Plain-clothes police officers continue to canvass members of the public for information, while a broad cordon surrounding the park has been tightened.
Andrea Petrie reports:
A knife-wielding teenager has been shot dead by police in a park in Melbourne's inner north.
Three of the four police at the incident fired shots at the 15-year-old boy after trying to subdue him twice with capsicum foam at All Nations Park, Northcote about 9.30pm.
Police said they received several reports from members of the public about a youth behaving erratically with two knives he had earlier stolen from the nearby Kmart.
"At some stage the young bloke has approached the police officers. They backed off and fired shots to no effect," said Assistant Commissioner Tim Cartwright.
"He has continued to approach, at which stage three of the four members then fired at the young man, fatally wounding him. He's fallen to the ground and died at the scene a very short time after."
Mr Cartwright described the incident as a "dreadful tragedy".
"Our condolences are certainly with the family," he said, adding that the police officers - two men and two women from Preston and Northcote - were "pretty shaken".
"We shouldn't lose members of the community this way," he said. "We train our police members, they've foamed him, they talked to him and they've done what they can (before he was shot). It's a dreadful event."
It is not known how many shots were discharged by police or the number of the times the youth was hit but he is believed to have been shot in the chest, Mr Cartwright said.
Originally posted by Havick007
reply to post by neonitus
How would you feel being tased for a crime of drunk and disorderly?
How would you feel? What if you had a previous heart condition?
Taser - Safety Issues(WIKI)
Critics argue that TASERs as well as other high-voltage stun devices can cause cardiac arrhythmia in susceptible subjects, possibly leading to heart attack or death in minutes by ventricular fibrillation, which leads to cardiac arrest and—if not treated immediately—to sudden death. People susceptible to this outcome are sometimes healthy and unaware of their susceptibility.
Although the medical conditions or use of illegal drugs among some of the casualties may have been the proximate cause of death, the electric blast of the TASER can significantly heighten such risk for subjects in an at-risk category. This suggests that TASERs and other electroshock weapons would be dangerous to use on people with certain medical conditions and yet, since police officers will typically not know about a person's medical history or possible drug use, this entails a risk of death with virtually any suspect.
Risk of fire injury
Tasers come with express instructions not to use them where flammable liquids or fumes may be present, such as filling stations or by police raiding methamphetamine labs, as TASERs, like other electric devices, have been found to ignite flammable materials.
An evaluative study carried out by the British Home Office investigated the potential for TASERs to ignite CS gas. Seven trials were conducted, in which CS gas canisters containing methyl isobutyl ketone (a solvent used in all CS sprays utilized by the United Kingdom police) were sprayed over mannequins wearing street clothing. The TASERs were then fired at the mannequins. In two of the seven trials, "the flames produced were severe and engulfed the top half of the mannequin, including the head". This poses a particular problem for law enforcement, as some police departments approve the use of CS before the use of a TASER.
A February 2005 memorandum from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, a United States Army weapons test site, discouraged shocking soldiers with TASERs in training, contrary to TASER International's recommendations. The Army's occupational health sciences director affirmed the TASER's effectiveness, but warned that "Seizures and ventricular fibrillation can be induced by the electric current." and that "the practice of using these weapons on U.S. Army military and civilian forces in training is not recommended, given the potential risks."
PoliceOn 5 July 2005 Michael Todd,
Then Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, England, let himself be shot in the back with a TASER, to demonstrate his confidence that TASERs can be used safely. This was captured on video, and the video was released to the BBC on 17 May 2007. He was wearing a shirt and no jacket. When tased, he fell forward onto his chest on the ground, and (he said afterwards) "I couldn't move, it hurt like hell," he said after recovering. "I wouldn't want to do that again."
Although tests on police and military volunteers have shown TASERs to function appropriately on a healthy, calm individual in a relaxed and controlled environment, the real-life target of a TASER is, if not mentally or physically unsound, in a state of high stress and in the midst of a confrontation. According to the UK’s Defence Scientific Advisory Council’s subcommittee on the Medical Implications of Less-lethal Weapons (DoMILL), "The possibility that other factors such as illicit drug intoxication, alcohol abuse, pre-existing heart disease, and cardioactive therapeutic drugs may modify the threshold for generation of cardiac arrhythmias cannot be excluded.” In addition, Taser experiments “do not take into account real life use of Tasers by law enforcement agencies, such as repeated or prolonged shocks and the use of restraints".
Police officers in at least five US states have filed lawsuits against Taser International claiming they suffered serious injuries after being shocked with the device during training classes.
Medical literature reports that one police officer suffered spine fractures after being shocked by a Taser during a demonstration.
Designation as torture device
The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT), an agency charged with overseeing the application of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, arrived at the conclusion on November 23, 2007, that the use of the electric pulse Taser gun constitutes a "form of torture" and "can even provoke death." The U.N. has thus declared: "TASER electronic stun guns are a form of torture that can kill. 'RESIST CARDIAC ARREST', a British Human Rights campaigning group was inaugurated in February 2010 to encourage the British Government to ratify the UNCAT and discontinue taser usage in Britain. To date, the British Government and Police have been unwilling to communicate with RCA on the issue of the UNCAT.