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Thursday, March 10, 2011

"The Taser's not the be all and end all'

March 10, 2011
Evan Schwarten, Sydney Morning Herald

A Queensland police officer has admitted tasering a man eight times shortly before he died in custody, but has questioned the effectiveness of the device.

Senior Constable Craig Myles told the inquest into the 2009 death of Antonio Galeano he recalled activating the device eight times as he struggled to subdue the 39-year-old.

Told that data recorded by the device indicated it had been activated 28 times, Sen Const Myles said it was possible he'd used it against Mr Galeano that many times but doubted it.

"It's possible but I don't believe it, I did it eight times," he told the inquest.

However, following Mr Galeano's death, a short time after the last activation of the Taser, Sen Const Myles told other officers the device wasn't as effective as he'd been led to believe.

"I said `the Taser's not the be all and end all'," he told the court.

"It didn't seem to be as good as they say it does in the training."

The inquest heard Sen Const Myles and his partner Constable Marina Cross were called to Mr Galeano's girlfriend's home at Brandon, south of Townsville, after she reported he was "off his head" and destroying the property.

Sen Const Myles said they arrived to find Mr Galeano in the bathroom covered with blood and chanting phrases similar to "one, two, three, you're dead" out the window at the officers who were standing in the backyard.

He said he tasered Mr Galeano through the window, causing him to fall to the floor, and then asked Const Cross to go inside and handcuff him.

However, he said Mr Galeano continued to struggle so he activated the device twice inside, before going inside where he would ultimately activate it another five times.

He said some of the activations appeared to have little or no effect on Mr Galeano who resisted attempts to put him in handcuffs until after the eighth activation.

Mr Galeano, he said, was able to get up off the ground after the first few activations and was threatening to kill the officers throughout the ordeal.

However, his evidence contradicted the testimony of Const Cross who earlier this week told the inquest she saw the device activated only five times.

The officer's accounts also differ on claims Mr Galeano was armed - Const Cross said he was armed with a metal rod while inside the bathroom, and Sen Const Myles gave evidence he was armed with the cord from a hair dryer.

The inquest continues.

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