News

NSW Coroner describes police as reckless over taser death

RECKLESS, dangerous, excessive and thuggish was how NSW Coroner Mary Jerram described the actions of several police officers which led to the tragic death of a young Brazilian man on the streets of Sydney in March this year.

Coroner Jerram released her findings from the inquest into the death of 21-year-old Roberto Laudisio Curti on Wednesday.

On St Patrick's Day this year, Mr Curti went out for drinks with friends but never returned home.

His death was probably caused by police officers using multiple Tasers, capsicum spray and handcuffing, as well as a 'pile on' of several officers on his back while he screamed in pain in the street.

The Coroner's report also said other factors leading to his death were errors of police reporting his erroneous behvaiour as an "armed robbery", after he shared LSD with some friends hours earlier.

But Coroner Jerram concluded despite the LSD use, "he was guilty of no serious offence", and there was no alcohol found in his system during an autopsy.

She also found police officers abused their powers by using excessive force in tasering him multiple times at point blank range, or in 'drive stun mode'; tackling; spraying (with capsicum spray) and restraining him.

She was particularly critical of then-Sergeant Greg Cooper's actions both on the morning of Mr Curti's death, and during the inquest since.

"Sergeant Cooper's evidence was so self-contradictory, self-serving and obscure that it hardly bears narrating," Coroner Jerram wrote.

"Frankly, given that he was the most senior officer involved, both his actions during the event and his attempts to exonerate himself and blame more junior officers afterwards, are little short of contemptible."

Sergeant Cooper has since been promoted to the more senior level of Inspector within the state police force.

Coroner Jerram's report also highlighted the contradictory nature of some of the other officer's evidence, finding some individual officers more to blame than others.

While she made no certain findings on the cause of death, she wrote it was probable a "pile on" of 11 officers, numerous tasers used in "drive stun mode" and the use of up to three cans of capsicum spray on him may have contributed.

Coroner Jerram made five recommendations, including disciplinary actions against five officers be considered by NSW Police, and the actions of police be referred to the state's Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

She also recommended an immediate review of the state police standard operating procedures for Tasers, capsicum spray, handcuffing, restraint and potential asphyxia (suffocation) among other procedures.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione fronted the media after the Coroner's report was released.

He acknowledged the report was "scathing and vowed to adopt all five recommendations contained in the report.

Commissioner Scipione said he was "mindful" of calls for criminal charges to be laid against the officers involved but warned it would be "problematic" for disciplinary action to be considered before the PIC had reviewed the report.

He did however confirm the concerning officers had been stripped of their taser accreditation and would have to undergo training before the weapons were returned to them.

Asked why an officer, whose evidence was almost entirely rejected by the Coroner, had been promoted to Inspector in the months following the incident, Mr Scipione said he had been the strongest candidate for the job.

He said the Coroner had raised some "very serious concerns" about the officer's evidence and they had been referred to the Professional Standards Command.

He also accepted tasers could encourage "lazy cop syndrome" but strongly rejected the suggestion they had no place in policing.

"I think we need to remember that tasers have saved lives, and they have protected police and others, including those suffering mental health episodes, from the risk of injury on many occasions," Mr Scipione said
Mr Curti's death was officially listed as "undetermined".

Topics:  coroner, nsw police, taser



Flashback: A more romantic time when ballroom was king

Joan Gauldie

A new series sharing tales from Ipswich's older generation

Backpacker tax scrapped as changes bite on farmers

Rob Bauer of Bauer's Organic Farm. The farm has launched a paddock-to-plate online shop. Photo: LucyRC Photography

Region's farmers still unhappy with decision

Get ready to say goodbye to another Aussie icon

Say goodbye to the iconic Sunnyboy iceblock.

Nostalgic ice blocks will be sold no more

Local Partners

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Kate goes down fighting in heated Survivor elimination

Australian Survivor contestant Kate Campbell.

YOGA teacher's 'good guys' alliance fails to get off the ground.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Housing report points to a lift in local market

AFFORDABLE HOMES: First home buyers have the opportunity to purchase modern new homes in the Ipswich region for under $400,000.

Region shaping up as the "final frontier” for affordable housing

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Investors out-bid first-home buyers in booming market

Housing generic.

Ipswich's housing market is putting more cash into sellers’ pockets

Another Ripley development

THE ENTRANCE: An overview of the last planned development for the fast growing Ripley area.

85 more home lots released

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.