Taser gun abuse must cease

Taser gun abuse must cease

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 October 7, 2010

Chairwoman of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, Bev Manton, has expressed her shock and outrage at recent reports of the misuse of police taser stun-guns on Aboriginal people across the country.

Ms Manton has expressed her distress the dangerous shock weapons are being abused by police, especially towards the Aboriginal population.

"The astonishing reports emerging from Western Australia, where police allegedly tasered a heavily pregnant Aboriginal woman eight times are simply sickening.

"That said, the pictures of a mentally-ill, handcuffed, unarmed Aboriginal man being shocked a total of 13 times by up to nine police officers in a secure cell - simply beggar belief," she said.

"This dangerous behavior by some in the police force is a clear indicator there must be a review of how these weapons are deployed, as some police have demonstrated they simply can't be trusted to operate them responsibly or with any restraint.

"If the incident in the East Perth lock-up were to have taken place in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, the perpetrators would be facing multiple charges including dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery.

"In this case however, the 'Sergeant' who allegedly led the vicious assault has since been promoted, according to media reports.

"I find that fact to be astonishing," Ms Manton said.

"In Australia we reward despicable police behavior, and often when it's meted-out against the country's first peoples.

"These recent, highly public incidents have done little to bridge the already strained relationship between Aboriginal people and the country's police forces.

"It's clear the use of the taser gun is fast becoming the 'easy option' for police to ensure instructions are followed and demands met. Perhaps a renewed focus on mediation and negotiation should be the first port of call for police rather than reaching for the belt.

"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council supports the use of reasonable force in the protection or safety of one's self, but applying violence to ensure compliance is a criminal offence.

"I can only despair at the lack punishment the officers involved in these incidents have received. It's certainly a poor reflection on our police force and its leadership."

CONTACT: Chris Munro 0438 760 242