June 17, 2009
THE north Queensland man who died last week after police used a stun gun on him was shot more than 20 times with a 50,000-volt Taser, prompting calls for an investigation into the use of the weapon and possible criminal charges against the officer involved.
Data downloaded from the officer's stun gun -- now being rolled out to police across Australia -- has revealed that amphetamines addict Antonio Galeano was shot at least 20 times, each for a duration of five seconds, before he collapsed and died while in handcuffs.
Capsicum spray had also been used on Mr Galeano during the incident, early Friday morning at a unit in Brandon, south of Townsville.
Police initially told the media that an unnamed senior constable had only used the weapon three times on Mr Galeano, 39, who earlier had allegedly assaulted a woman and was wielding a metal pipe when confronted by the officer and his partner, a first-year constable.
But The Australian can exclusively reveal that an inbuilt system in the controversial weapon -- which automatically records each time the weapon is fired -- indicated Mr Galeano was shot more than 20 times.
Mr Galeano was repeatedly shot, using the gun's "probe mode", which according to the website of US manufacturer Taser International, fires darts into the target, before a triggering delivers 19 pulses a second of about 1300 volts for five seconds.
"But the weapon also develops an open circuit arc of 50,000 volts to traverse clothing in cases where no direct contact is made," the website adds.
The Australian could find no other incident in the world where law enforcement has been reported to have deployed the gun more than five times in a single incident.
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties vice-president Terry O'Gorman last night said the revelations warranted an unlawful killing investigation into the police involved. "The focus of the investigation should not be about possible disciplinary action but whether manslaughter charges should be laid," he said.
"The amount of shots using this high-voltage weapon is completely contrary to appropriate guidelines and against evidence that a Taser is not supposed to be used more than once in a given period."
The senior constable, who shot the Taser, has told investigators from police Ethical Standards Command that he only Tasered Mr Galeano several times.
Police are also investigating whether the Taser malfunctioned during the incident or if the data recorded on the gun is incorrect.
But George Hateley, the exclusive distributor of Tasers in Australia, yesterday said a malfunction was unlikely.
"It is an outside possibility," he said. "And the data taken off the weapon is very accurate."
Mr Hateley said the weapon could be shot 196 times before it needed to be recharged.
The data on the Taser sparked Police Minister Neil Roberts and Commissioner Bob Atkinson to suddenly freeze the rollout of the tasers on Monday and order a Crime and Misconduct Commission review of Taser policy and training in Queensland.
But at the time, Mr Roberts and Mr Atkinsion refused to reveal the reasons behind their decision, saying "new evidence" was the property of acting state coroner Christine Clements, who is investigating the death.
Queensland police last night said they could not comment about the death because "it is currently the subject of a coronial investigation".
At least 1200 Tasers have been distributed to police in Queensland, after former police minister Judy Spence ordered 2500 guns be rolled out to general duties officers mid-way through a year-long trial.
Amnesty International has claimed that Tasers have been linked to more than 300 deaths worldwide.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
June 17, 2009