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Monday, July 11, 2011

Multiple use of stun gun 'inappropriate'

July 11, 2011
Miranda Forster, Sydney Morning Herald

A Queensland police officer was wrong to keep using a Taser on a man after initial blasts from the weapon failed to subdue him, a former police tactician has told a coronial inquest.

William Turner gave evidence in the Brisbane Coroners Court on Monday at the inquest into the death of Antonio Galeano, who was tasered multiple times by police.

The 39-year-old died on the floor of his girlfriend's home in Brandon, north Queensland, in June 2009.

Senior Constable Craig Myles has admitted tasering Mr Galeano eight times in an attempt to subdue him, although the Taser he used registered 28 applications of 50,000 volts.

The court was told at one stage the Taser was deployed continuously for 40 seconds.

Mr Turner, who was in charge of police tactical training in Queensland in 2009, said it was incorrect to use the weapon multiple times to no effect. "If it's not deploying properly he should have moved to another use of force option," Mr Turner said. "If it was a conscious decision to cycle (the Taser) it was inappropriate.

"To keep recycling the Taser and for him not to achieve control of Mr Galeano, I would have said that he'd really need to change his tactics because it wasn't operating for him in the correct manner."

He suggested in the heat of the moment Snr Const Myles may not have heard the Taser deploying or seen the effect on Mr Galeano.

Mr Turner said the initial decision to use the Taser was appropriate, given Mr Galeano was a known violent offender and appeared mentally unstable and under the influence of drugs.

"I think taking those things into account the decision for Myles to deploy the Taser was tactically sound," he said.

Mr Turner also defended the decision by Snr Const Myles and his partner not to call for backup before they arrived at the scene.

As they were the only officers on duty it would have taken up to 40 minutes for help to arrive, he told the court.

He admitted the officers could have called for medical help before they arrived at the scene as they knew Mr Galeano had been injured.

"A call for an ambulance at that time would have been a good thing," he said.

The inquest continues.

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