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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Andrew Bornen, 16, too young for Taser, says watchdog

February 12, 2009
couriermail - Australia

A 16-YEAR-old youth was too young to be threatened with a Taser by police before he lay down and was hit by a car, civil libertarians say.

Andrew Bornen died when struck by a car about 11pm on Saturday in the Ipswich suburb of Brassall, west of Brisbane.

Police were responding to reports of a man waving a machete, but the unarmed teenager voluntarily lay on the ground when threatened with a Taser and was then hit by a car which police say they tried to stop.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said police were not authorised to use the Taser. "Police policy is not to use a Taser on a child," Mr Cope said.

"With someone under the age of 18 they should not have been threatening to use a Taser against him at all.

"If the Taser hadn't been presented and under police policy it should not have been presented this incident might not have occurred."

Mr Cope said the teenager's death was further evidence the Taser was becoming a "de facto first option" for Queensland police.

"We've had that case involving the 16-year-old girl early last year who was Tasered repeatedly by a police officer," he said.

"This case once again raises the issue of the automatic use of Tasers and the use of Tasers against children."

Mr Cope said the Taser should only be used in a life-threatening situation but since Bornen was unarmed there was no threat to life.

"They've got an unarmed person walking or running across the street ... and they present the thing - what's the justification for that?"

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