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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Australia: Man died after 20 hits from stun gun

June 17, 2009
The Australian

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.


TheEvilOne said...

It appears that the taser counts the times that it is used, do you know whether it also timestamps each use and logs the duration.

I have two questions about how the taser works:-
1/ When one pulls the trigger does the taser operate while the trigger remains pressed or does it fire for a fixed period?
2/ Is there any limit on how quickly one can fire again after the previous firing?

I understand that the normal period of operation is 5 seconds, 28 times 5 seconds gives an unbelievable 140 seconds more than 2 minutes. If the victim really was tasered for 2 minutes 20 seconds it is no surprise that he is dead.

I think Australia may be lucky, 3 deaths in so short a time may be enough to cause a serious rethinking.

TheEvilOne said...

On the ABC's (Australian Broadcasting Commission) 7:30 Report tonight 18/06/2009 there was a segment on this Queensland case and footage of several taserings was shown. In some of them the victims appeared to be convulsing rather than being locked in paralysis. I suspect that some taser operators mistake the convulsions for resistance and so repeat the operation.

Also I wonder whether there is a latency period after the taser current ceases during which the victim is incapable of moving and hence of complying with instructions.

Anonymous said...

EvilOne, yes! Their arms lock up for a second or two and they are incapable of moving them. The police know this; on youtube videos when cops are going through "taser training" they are tased themselves and it happens to them. That is why as soon as a cop tasers someone he immediately demands that his victim put his arms behind his back "or I'll taser you again." If you watch videos of this, you can hear the person say "I can't!" or "I'm trying!" The person tased is already on the ground and is not a threat (of course, 99% of people tased were never a threat in the first place), but so the cop can experience a more heightened sexual experience, he invariably will taser his completely helpless victim again. And again. Torturing people is just good clean fun to them.

Anonymous said...

EvilOne, are you sure you're from Australia? You follow the same blogs I do. Loretta Nall is from my state, Alabama.

TheEvilOne said...


I used to brows the site of the Sydney and Melbourne newspapers but these days I am more interested in US blogs. My interest is in evil and there is simply more of that happening in the US.

TheEvilOne said...

I used to browse the sites of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Age and The Australian intensively but these days I concentrate more on US blogs and news sites. My interest is in evil such as crime, corruption, police misconduct, mass incarceration, war, genocide and ethnic cleansing and these days the US is involved in much more of this than Australia.

Anonymous said...

That's true, EvilOne, just the one fact that the US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated should be enough to wake us up to the fact that our only real enemy is our government. It is not. It only gets worse as the gov daily invents new "laws" to imprison ever more people for fake, non-existent crimes for longer and longer periods.

Our every move and conversation (and now our thoughts) are being monitored by the gov. And it is clear that we will never be free from war on countries that threaten us not the tiniest little bit. Foreign wars, war on drugs, war on crime, war on hate, it never ends.

That is to say it will not end voluntarily but it will end as we plunge headlong into a killer depression. People in other countries can see all this plainly, but we cannot.