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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Australia: Chest shot advice 'proof Tasers should be scrapped'

October 13, 2009
Robyn Ironside, Courier Mail

LAWYERS claim a recommendation that Tasers not be aimed at a person's chest are proof the weapons are lethal and should be scrapped.

Manufacturer Taser International has issued the directive based on controversy over the impact of the stun guns on the human heart.

It recommends Tasers instead be aimed at a suspect's legs or back.

Queensland Police are considering the directive as part of its revamped Taser training package to be rolled out next year.

But criminal defence lawyer Jim Coburn of Ryan and Bosscher said the official warning from Taser was a ``spectacular disclosure of the possible health risks from firing the devices into a person's chest and seriously undermined Queensland police and state government assurances that Tasers were safe to use.''

"Why has it taken so long for authorities to realise tasering in the chest could be life threatening?" he said. "It seems to be yet again evidence of the rushed manner in which these weapons were introduced."

Queensland's Police Union has also criticised the directive, calling it impractical.

"The decision by Taser makes it almost impossible for police who are using Tasers,"
said QPU general president Ian Leavers. "It's just not practical to ask a suspect to turn around so they can be Tasered in the back."

A joint QPS-Crime and Misconduct Commission report released last month recommended police be prohibited from aiming Tasers at a person's face, neck or eyes.

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