November 16, 2010
Josh Jerga, Sydney Morning Herald
The West Australian corruption watchdog has taken over police investigations into the repeated tasering of an unarmed Perth man at a watch house in 2008.
The Corruption and Crime Commission directed WA Police and the Department of Corrective Services to stop any investigations into events which led to Kevin Spratt being tasered more than 20 times in two weeks.
On August 31 2008, Mr Spratt was tasered 13 times while in custody as nine officers surrounded him at the East Perth Watch House.
CCTV footage released by the CCC in a report last month showed Mr Spratt was subdued on a bench during the tasering.
No officers were charged over the incident despite a police internal inquiry finding two had used undue and excessive force.
However, police will assist the Director of Public Prosecutions in deciding whether to charge any of the officers.
A week later, Mr Spratt, now 41, was tasered 11 times when corrective service officers tried to "extract" him from his cell at the East Perth Lockup.
Commissioner Len Roberts-Smith said the CCC would try to determine the circumstances surrounding the use or threat of Tasers on Mr Spratt on five separate occasions.
These include a threat by police on August 30, the incident at the East Perth Watch House on August 30, the occasion of Mr Spratt's arrest on September 6 and his time in the lock-up.
The CCC will also examine WA police's internal investigation of the incidents.
"There is a high level of public interest in the circumstances surrounding these incidents and the investigations into them," Mr Roberts-Smith said in a statement.
"It is in everyone's interest that these matters are investigated thoroughly and that the outcome be placed on the public record."
Last week the WA opposition obtained the statement of police facts regarding the August 31 incident, which appeared to contradict the CCTV footage.
It said the use of the Taser had little effect on Mr Spratt, who had continued to "violently resist against police trying to restrain him".
As a result the Aboriginal man was charged with two counts of obstructing police.
Shadow Attorney-General John Quigley has accused the state's police force of misleading the courts.
Mr Quigley asked the government in state parliament on Tuesday to clarify how many times Mr Spratt was charged and what were his alleged offences.
WA Police Minister Rob Johnson said he would not comment on the matter while the CCC investigates, claiming Mr Quigley was "slowly killing off any possibility of a fair trial".
"I would think the member for Mindarie in all of his years of alleged legal expertise would appreciate the legal process surrounding these matters."
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
November 16, 2010