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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Australia: Police training warned of Taser dangers

November 11, 2010
Evan Schwarten, Sydney Morning Herald

Queensland police had been warned of the potentially fatal consequences of repeated Taser use prior to an incident in which a north Queensland man died, an inquest has heard.

Taser expert Patrick Burrell told the inquest into the death of Antonio Galeano that officers were cautioned against using a Taser multiple times against one person when they were trained in the use of the device.

"The training at the time cautioned against multiple use," he told the inquest.

He said a 2005 bulletin issued by Taser International stated that repeated or prolonged exposure to the electrical charge generated by a Taser could impair breathing. .

Mr Galeano died on the floor of his girlfriend's home at Brandon, south of Townsville, after being tasered multiple times by Senior Constable Craig Myles.

The inquest has previously heard Senior Constable Myles had been trained in the use of the device, which was rolled out to Queensland police in 2009, only a month before the incident.

Data recorded by the Taser showed it had been deployed 28 times against Mr Galeano but Mr Burrell said evidence from eyewitnesses suggested some of the applications had not been effective.

He said evidence of flashes of blue light between the Taser wires and a loud clicking noise suggested the device was not able to perform a complete electrical circuit.

The device was almost silent when working effectively with only a small arc of electricity visible between the metal barbs which were in contact with the subject's skin, he said.

If the device was able to generate a complete circuit, only a small arc of electricity would have been visible between the two barbs which had connected with Mr Galeano's skin, he said.

Mr Burrell also said Senior Constable Myles' initial use of the Taser, through a bathroom window, went against training guidelines.

He said Senior Constable's Myles' partner Marina Cross was not near Mr Galeano at the time and therefore unable tohandcuff him while he was incapacitated.

The inquest has been adjourned to Brisbane next month where is will hear from expert witnesses, including the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Mr Galeano.

Senior Constable Myles and Constable Cross are due to give evidence at a hearing of the inquest in March.

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