Reactions to taser use tempered

The continued use of tasers by Victoria Police has been debated in an online forum by Express readers after a recent use of the device in Sydney resulted in a fatality.

The Express asked for readers’ opinions on its Facebook page, with some Latrobe Valley residents believing the use of conducted electricity devices by Victoria Police should continue while others were concerned about other factors at play.

The death of 21 year-old student Roberto Laudisio Curti in Sydney on Sunday, who may have been tasered by at least three officers during a chase after the Brazilian man allegedly stole a packet of biscuits, according to reports, has sparked national debate about the use of the devices.

Rosemary Gaskell from Trafalgar expressed concern about potential heart conditions which could put those who have been tasered at risk.

“(I don’t think there is a need for) a double taser; it gives you (a higher) chance of killing someone,” Ms Gaskell said.

Traralgon resident Jason May said tasers should be carried by officers, but its use would depend on the circumstances.

“If there was a need for a firearm to be used, where a taser would suffice, then of course (it should be used)…even if there was say a 10 per cent chance of death from a taser, wouldn’t that be better than an 80 per cent chance of death from a firearm wound?” Mr May said.

Reader Allie Kohana said people should not get themselves into situations in which they could be tasered to begin with.

“Police don’t go around zapping random people who haven’t done anything wrong; if a trained police officer uses a taser on you, you must deserve it,” Ms Kohana said.

Philip Mayer concurred, saying police had a hard enough job, while Vikki Ross said: “The moral of the story is…don’t run from the cops and you won’t get tasered”.

Meanwhile, Australian Lawyers Alliance is urging an inquiry to be held looking into the use of tasers, capsicum spray and other potentially lethal police weapons.

Citing various past incidents during which the use of tasers resulted in death, ALA national president Greg Barns said in a statement the use of tasers were not risk-free.

“Yet, you have a situation where another Australian death doesn’t cause the Victorian Police Chief Commissioner, Ken Lay, to pause and consider introducing them now in Victoria,” Mr Barns said.

He also expressed concern regarding the link between the use of tasers and the mentally ill.

“Tasers continue to be promoted by police and politicians as a safe alternative to hand guns, but clearly they are not. This may be furthering their unnecessary use as a quick fix to an otherwise protracted drawn-out stand-off with a suspect,” he said.

Along with Bendigo, Morwell was one of the first areas to carry out Victorian taser trials. In an interview with The Express last week, Eastern Division 5 Acting Superintendent Glenn Weir called the 18-month taser trial in Morwell an “overwhelming success”.

Act Supt Weir said the use of tasers had been welcomed by police members, who found it useful to have an option to help resolve potentially violent situations without having to use firearms.