“I can’t see, I can’t see. I’m going to die… Help me”
A young Brazilian university student runs disorientated down a busy Sydney street, visibly distressed. He darts into a nearby convenience store, steals a packet of biscuits and rushes back out. A bystander witnesses his erratic behaviour and calls police.
Shortly after, Roberto Laudisio Curti is chased by police, thrashing his arms around as he tries to escape. The officers catch up and he is pushed to the ground and handcuffed, held down with the help of up to 11 officers, capsicum sprayed and tasered repeatedly as he lies in agony on the ground. By the time an ambulance arrives, Roberto is dead.
A 14-year-old boy, recently released from a rehab clinic, gets into a violent confrontation at a party on the New South Wales mid-north coast. police are called and the boy flees. Shortly after, he is captured by police hiding in a caravan park. After struggling with police, he was pepper sprayed and then Tasered. In the video of the incident, the boy is seen huddled over as Taser volts run through his body. He screams and cries in agony.
Calling for his long dead mother: “I can’t see, I can’t see. I’m going to die… Help me, please, please Matt, help me, Matt, I’m gonna die… I want to be with my mum.”
A 39-year-old man aggressively confronts his girlfriend in her home in North Queensland, thrashing objects and items throughout the house. She calls Triple 0.
When police arrive, after an agitated Antonio Galeano ignores their demands, they deploy their Tasers. The internal micro-chip in the device indicates it was used up to 27 times in just a few minutes.
Moments later, he’s dead.
Each of these incidents happened at the hands of different police and in vastly different circumstances. But in each case a stun gun was deployed - two resulting in Coronial inquests, one in a police investigation.
The Taser cam footage of the teenage boy being repeatedly shocked, as seen on ABC’s 730, was distressing to watch. The footage of this child being restrained by stun gun prongs for over 30 minutes is brutal, harrowing and could amount to torture.
The case itself documents a gross abuse of police power on a child and in no way can be seen as an appropriate tactical response, as claimed by the officers involved. In no circumstances is it appropriate to use this kind of force on anyone, let alone a child.
There is no evidence that the child’s behaviour was dangerous. This is yet another incident where these weapons have been abused by law enforcement officials.
The Coronial findings into Mr Curti and Mr Galeano’s deaths and this horrific footage of a 14-year old repeatedly Tasered confirms Amnesty International’s ongoing concerns that stun guns are being misused and systematically abused by police.
Amnesty International has long questioned the validity of arming junior police with stun guns, without adequate training and has made continuous recommendations that these weapons must only be used in cases where lethal force is warranted. That means only deploying the weapons in cases where a gun would otherwise be used.
This is a call reinforced by research from overseas, with US figures indicating at least 500 people in the USA have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail.
The NSW Police Commissioner yesterday released a statement saying that the five recommendations handed down by Coroner Mary Jerram regarding the Roberto Curti case will be adopted.
Amidst those recommendations, Coroner Jerram asked that the officers involved face disciplinary action, be referred to the Police Integrity Commission and that the procedures for the use of these weapons be reviewed immediately.
The Coroner found that some of the police acted recklessly in the confrontation, and while not attributing the stun guns as the specific cause of death, she has recommended that training be clear and specific for the deployment of these potentially lethal weapons.
But among the lessons in these shocking cases it should be recognised that the misuse of Tasers is not simply isolated to one state or region.
As these recent cases highlight, the roll out of Tasers has been marred by an endemic misunderstanding of when the weapons should be used, on who and why.
The abuse of these weapons in Australia has gone beyond isolated incidents and while significant announcements acknowledge the dangers of these ‘non-lethal weapons’, a nationwide review is needed to address a systematic failure to regulate the use of Tasers and those trained to use them.
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@mooks83 sophisticated response. Think the kids parents saw it differently
More class from 9's footy show, lampooning a baby that allegedly looks like Sterlo with a pic swiped from Facebook http://t.co/BGoYP6Pn68
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