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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Australia: Taser cops not kept apart after death

November 10, 2010
Evan Schwarten, Sydney Morning Herald

Two police officers involved in the Taser death of a north Queensland man should have been separated as soon as possible after the incident, an inquest has heard.

The inquest into the death of Antonio Galeano heard on Wednesday that Senior Constable Craig Myles and Constable Marina Cross should have been kept apart to ensure the investigation into the incident was not compromised.

However, the inquest earlier heard the two officers remained at the scene for several hours following Mr Galeano's death and were not separated.

Superintendent John Sheppard, from Queensland Police Service Ethical Standards Command, said internal guidelines stipulated that officers involved in a death in custody be isolated so they could give an independent version of events.

"The policy is clear - we should take every opportunity to guard against the versions of the officers being tainted by inappropriate discussion," Supt Sheppard told the inquest.

On Monday, Inspector Dominic McHugh told the inquest he decided not to separate the officers when he arrived at the scene, an hour after Mr Galeano's death, because he did not consider it practical.

"There is a model way of doing things and a practical way of doing things," he said.

"I arrived well after the event. If they were going to concoct or discuss a story, if that's the suggestion, they would have done it well before I arrived."

Supt Sheppard was also critical of Senior Sergeant Gavin Oates, who was initially in charge of the scene, for leaving the address to get coffee for the two officers.

"It certainly wasn't what I would describe as optimal, it was a poor decision," Supt Sheppard said.

Mr Galeano died on the floor of his girlfriend's house at Brandon, south of Townsville, in June last year after being tasered multiple times by Sen Const Myles.

Last week, Mr Galeano's girlfriend Sandra Wynne told the inquest she had called police because her partner was acting erratically and destroying her house.

The inquest continues.

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