13 Jun 2009

Tasers safe despite death, says police association

2:00 pm on 13 June 2009

The Police Association says opponents of tasers are wrongly using the death of a Queensland man to lobby against the use of the stun guns.

The 39-year-old man died on Friday after being repeatedly stunned with a taser.

Campaign Against the Taser spokesperson Marie Dyhrberg, says the death shows people with mental health problems, or who are agitated because of drugs, are more susceptible to injury or serious harm if they are tasered.

Ms Dyhrberg says tasers should only be used as a last resort.

The Police Association says there is no evidence the death was the result of the stun gun use, and it understands the man suffered from mental health problems, and was a heavy user of methamphetamine.

President Greg O'Connor says there was a ten minute gap between the taser use and the man's death.

He says tasers are not only safer for police officers but also for those they are policing.

Death investigated

In Friday's incident in Australia, police said they were called by a woman to a property at Brandon, near Townsville, where they found a man semi-naked, covered in blood and armed with an iron bar.

The Queensland Police Union said two rookie officers who attended the scene have said the man was acting violently and deemed him a threat to himself and police.

The officers decided to subdue him with capsicum spray and the taser gun, from which three stuns were fired. The union said the man was violent and a known drug user.

The man's death is being investigated by the coroner, the Crime and Misconduct Commission and the police Ethical Standards Command.

The man's death is the third in Australia linked to police use of tasers.

A man died in Alice Springs last month after police stunned him with a taser. In May 2002, New South Wales man Gary Pearce died of a heart attack about two weeks after being shot with a stun gun when he threatened police with a frying pan.