Saturday, June 20, 2009

Corrupt Queensland cops whitewash their misuse of Tasers

COMPLAINTS about Queensland police officers' alleged misuse of Tasers are routinely being investigated - and dismissed - by police. Of the 13 complaints made about Tasers since July 2007, only three have been finalised, with two of those found to be unsubstantiated.

Police also dismissed the third complaint - relating to the use of a Taser of a 16-year-old girl at South Bank - finding the constable involved had displayed sound judgment in his actions. However, the Crime and Misconduct Commission disagreed with that finding and conducted its own investigation, which resulted in harsh criticism of police "for failing to learn from their mistakes". Police are still investigating nine other complaints received about the use of Tasers, with the CMC overseeing the latest investigation into the possible Taser-related death of Antonio Galeano, 39, in north Queensland this month.

A CMC spokeswoman said the commission was generally only involved in complaints "of acomplex nature".

Family and friends of Galeano farewelled the 39-year-old yesterday in Ayr, about 5km from Brandon, where he collapsed and died shortly after his confrontation with police on Friday, June 12. Although officers involved have said he was Tasered no more than five times, data from the weapon revealed it was discharged 28 times. An autopsy has found the man suffered a heart attack, but it is not yet clear if the taser triggered that. [Would 28 rapidly repeated high voltage shocks from a Taser cause a heart attack? Nah! Just ONE shot is usually disabling. It's the goon concerned who should be shot]

The incident has prompted a four-week review of Tasers in the Queensland Police Service and temporarily halted the statewide rollout of the weapons.

Civil libertarians have called for an independent investigation into the death, but Queensland Police Union acting president Ian Leavers said investigators should be left to do their job without comment. "Only at the conclusion of all these tests will the actual cause of death be known, and only then will the actions of the officers be able to be properly assessed," Mr Leavers said.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Killer Queensland police goons: 'I begged them to stop'

A woman claiming to have witnessed a fatal Taser incident in north Queensland last week says she begged police to stop continuously zapping him with the electric stun gun moments before he died. Antonio Galeano, 39, died after being shot with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun during a violent confrontation with police at a unit in Brandon, near Townsville last Friday. Police initially said Mr Galeano was shot three times but data recorded by the Taser showed it operated on 28 separate cycles during the confrontation.

The Australian newspaper says a post-mortem examination by pathologists found the man - had a pre-existing heart condition - died in handcuffs just 10 minutes after being shot with the Taser. A police source told Mr Galeano was "talking and lucid" before he suffered the heart attack.

Brandon woman Sandra Winn - who has made a statement to the Queensland Police Ethical Standards unit - reportedly said she saw police Taser Mr Galeano seven times, and begged the officers to stop. "The police officer states that he only used that Taser ... three times," Ms Winn told The Townsville Bulletin. "He hit him through the window here, the first time, hit him in the chest. "Toni fell down, he hit the ground, I heard him."

Ms Winn declined to speak to when contacted this morning, as she was on her way to Mr Galeano's funeral, to be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ayr. Mr Galeano's parents Carmelo and Agata said their son was "dearly loved". His son Blake and sister Giovanna and extended family will pay their final respects at Ayr Cemetery.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson last week said Mr Galeano, who was clutching shards of glass and an iron bar, had assaulted a woman before she ran to a nearby unit and called police. However, police have been unable to confirm how many people were in the unit at the time of the incident.

"I stood up on that chair (and looked through the window from outside) by that time they'd gone in," Ms Winn told The Townsville Bulletin. "The police officer was standing over him and going (makes Taser motions) on his back. "I was screaming (at) this window ... at the police officer stop, stop, stop you are supposed to be helping me. How many times can you hit him with that before you're going to kill him?"

Ethical Standards Command Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin said an investigation into the man's death would endeavour to compare the number of Taser "bite marks" on Mr Galeano's body with the data obtained from the Taser.