March 24, 2011
Sydney Morning Herald
A man repeatedly tasered by police did not die from the shocks, an inquest into his death has been told.
Pathologists said Antonio Galeano, 39, died as a result of his drug use and advanced heart disease.
Mr Galeano died in June 2009 after police were called to a disturbance at his girlfriend's house in the town of Brandon in north Queensland.
Senior Sergeant Craig Myles has admitted tasering Mr Galeano eight times, although the Taser he used registered 28 applications.
Professor David Williams said he did not believe the Taser had caused Mr Galeano's death. He said the man had an enlarged heart, severe coronary heart disease and was in a state of "excited delirium" caused by his methamphetamine use. Mr Galeano was "a man walking a tightrope", Prof Williams said. He was at risk of dying at any time, particularly when in a state of excitement or after blood loss, he said. He said Mr Galeano's heart weighed 500 grams, compared with 350-390 grams expected in a man of his size.
Prof Williams told the inquest he had no previous experience of Taser post mortems and little experience of people who died in a state of excited delirium.
"I felt there was no connection between the tasering and the death, because tasering is an external event and shouldn't affect the heart," he said.
"Tasers are not a threat to life, that's my bottom line," Prof Williams said.
Questioning of the professor about an Amnesty International report into 334 deaths attributed to Tasers was delayed after objections from some of the 13 lawyers attending the inquest.
World-renowned cardio-pathology expert Professor Steven Karch agreed that excited delirium or the condition of Mr Galeano's heart were the likely causes of death, but it could not be confirmed.
While he could not prove excited delirium could be fatal, he said he was "pretty sure" it was.
He said one study showed a 10 per cent mortality rate from excited delirium but "in anecdotal discussion with emergency department doctors they say it's common as dirt".
The San Francisco-based professor said he believed Mr Galeano was "stimulated maximally" and would have been impervious to pain, with a brain "short-circuited" from dopamine release.
"They could have tasered him all day long ... it wouldn't have made any difference."
Prof Karch said he believed heart failure or drug use were the likely causes of death.
The inquest continues before Deputy State Coroner Christine Clements.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, March 24, 2011
March 24, 2011