February 26, 2008

Cops Taser Handcuffed Man to “Shut Him Up”


Michael Wray
News.com.au
February 19, 2008

POLICE are investigating claims an officer tasered a handcuffed man three times in the Cleveland watchhouse last year to "shut him up".

Three other complaints about police using the 50,000-volt stun guns inappropriately had been referred to the service's internal investigation unit, police said.

Ethical Standards Command investigators dismissed one complaint against an officer who pulled out a Taser but did not fire it, according to a police spokeswoman.

Two matters are still under investigation and the other is subject to court proceedings, she said. Police Minister Judy Spence last month controversially announced a statewide rollout of Tasers to all frontline police despite being barely halfway through a 12-month trial.

Ms Spence released only limited trial results and immediately faced heavy criticism from lawyers and civil libertarians who feared the weapons would become the standard police response even in non-dangerous situations.

Police have pulled out Tasers 128 times since the trial began in July last year, shooting them about 60 per cent of the time, according to police.

The Tasers store data of the exact time, date, and duration of each shot.

Last August, police arrested concreter Nathan Brown, 23, near the Alexandra Hills Hotel and locked him in a cell at the Cleveland watchhouse.

Mr Brown pleaded guilty to assault, assaulting police and being a public nuisance. However, he has claimed in a signed statement believed to have been given to investigators that he was tasered three times while handcuffed in the watchhouse.

His sister Rebecca, 18, who was locked up that night after attempting to make an official complaint that police arresting her brother punched him, also gave an eyewitness statement.

Mr Brown admitted he lost control when police locked his sister up so he began "using aggressive language", telling officers to release her because she had done nothing wrong.

"A policeman unlocked my cell to what I thought was going to be frisked-processed while still handcuffed and during this process I was hit with a Taser gun three times in a row by an older policeman," he said, according to the statement.

Mr Brown's father Bryan, who has given statements to investigating officers, said about a week after the alleged incident he spoke to the officer who tasered his son.

The officer said "it shut him up, didn't it?", and hung up, he said.

Police confirmed the ethical standards investigation was ongoing.

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