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Coroner calls for better training after taser death

A QUEENSLAND coroner has called for a review into better training for police and ambulance officers in regional areas dealing with "severely disturbed individuals" as she vindicated an officer who tasered a man 28 times.

This comes as a NSW coroner compared officers who repeatedly tasered a Brazilian student to "schoolboys in the Lord of the Flies" who developed an "ungoverned pack mentality".

NSW state coroner Mary Jerram recommended five officers face disciplinary proceedings for their "thuggish" behaviour in the lead-up to Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti's death.

Queensland deputy state coroner Christine Clements found taser use was "inconsistent" with guidelines but there was no evidence the taser use caused Antonio Carmelo Galeano's death in North Queensland.

She said the facts clearly established the taser was activated 28 times but it was unclear whether the device was consciously used, noting the officer could have accidentally had pressure on the trigger still while trying to restrain the man.

Ms Clements recommended cameras on the end of tasers and altering triggers so zaps were restricted to five seconds.
She said tasers were "akin to semi-automatic weapons" without a restriction to prevent continuous electronic currents through the body.

Ms Clements said the 39 year old most likely died because of "excited delirium" brought on by amphetamine use and heart problems and did not recommend disciplinary action or criminal charges against the officers.

Giovanna Tama said, outside court, the coroner had continued the nightmare the family had endured since her brother's death.

She said she believed the police officers involved should formally have been punished for the incident.

"We are disgusted," she said.

Ms Clements said Ayr police were confronted with a volatile situation in 2009 - Mr Galeano had assaulted his partner, smashed up her house and his actions were unpredictable.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Levers said, outside court, the officers involved had medically retired since the incident.

He said the union supported the coroner's recommendations such as cameras on the tasers and other technology.

But he said he believed in further technology, body-worn cameras, to record police actions at all times.

"What the coroner rightly found was that it was not police who caused this, it was not a taser, it comes down to drug use which destroys lives within the community," he said.

"Mental health and drug use is a major problem right across Queensland as well as in regional Queensland."

But Mr Levers said regional and smaller towns did not have the resources available to train people better or more regularly in dealing with those people.

Police commissioner Ian Stewart said the coroner's findings showed "a real understanding of the complexity of the danger our police face everyday as they go about their job".

He said the loss of life was always a tragedy and the police service would examine any concept that would improve the way officers did their jobs.

"We are certain also that in many cases the use of tasers by our police has actually saved lives," he said.

"This is certainly the case of people who are suffering from mental illness, or who are suffering from delusions of self-harm.

"Our regional management have a responsibility to review every use of the taser, whether it is drawn and not fired.

"There is no intention at this time to reduce the number of tasers out in use."

Topics:  coroner, police, taser




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