Tasers: Are police getting adequate training?

  • 10/03/2017

Police's inappropriate use of Taser stun guns is being blamed on a lack of proper training.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority on Thursday said the Tasering of a mentally unwell man in police custody was unjustified, excessive and contrary to policy.

The man was Tasered twice after refusing to remove his clothes. He told the authority he had been sexually abused as a child and did not like being touched by other men.

He was being held down by two officers when he was shot with the Taser.

"Unfortunately these incidents that are happening are showing in some instances, if probably not more, they aren't being trained properly because they fell below the guidelines," anti-Taser activist and lawyer Marie Dyhrberg told The AM Show on Friday.

Tasers are not meant to be used for compliance, only when officers or the public are at risk.

"He saw the police wanting to attack him in a way that he had been abused," said Ms Dyhrberg.

"They did not have a split second to decide - they were talking to this person, they were trying to get him to strip down. There was backup there, there were three police officers, other officers out there. This was not a split-second [decision]."

Statistics show people with a mental health problem are twice as likely to end up Tasered than other suspects. Ms Dyhrberg says it's because they don't fully comprehend what is about to happen to them. Others understand the consequences.

"They might try to outrun a dog and think the pepper spray's not so bad, but the red dot's there and they don't want to be Tasered."

The Mental Health Foundation called the man's treatment "deeply concerning".

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Prevention Helpline on 0508 828 865.