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Police Taser. Should taser guns be withdrawn from general police use in Australia?

Updated on March 2, 2016

Police Use of Tasers. The issue of the roll out of the Taser weapon to the Australia's police continues to be a burning issue. In the space of three weeks two people have died as a result of the use of the Taser device. Imported from the United States the weapon has only been partially tested by this countries various police bodies.

Taser Proponents argue that it is better to use a Taser on an offender than a firearm or other weapon such as a baton. Critics argue that there have been too many deaths resulting from the use and misuse of the Taser. This seems especially so when the device is used multiple times on a person. The person can die from injuries sustained in the fall after being struck as well as heart & respiratory failure. Recipients of the Taser are at much greater risk of death ans serious injuries if influenced by drug or medical condition at the time of being 'Tasered.'

Taser International claims that Tasers are safe, but critics disagree, citing the number of deaths occurring after Taser use. Amnesty International has documented over 245 deaths that occurred after the use of Tasers. Amnesty International Canada and other civil liberties organizations have argued that a moratorium should be placed on Taser use until research can determine a way for them to be safely used.

An Aboriginal man from a remote western desert community was last night being airlifted to a Perth hospital after he was shot by police with a Taser gun and engulfed in flames.

About midday yesterday at the West Australian community of Warburton after police went to a house where Ronald Mitchell and others were sniffing petrol. The Royal Flying Doctor Service airlifted Mr Mitchell to a Perth hospital to be treated for burns to about 20 per cent of his body.

How the 36-year-old was set alight but family members told The Australian last night that his body burst into flames after the Taser hit him on the bridge of his nose.

His sister, Morinda West, said Mr Mitchell was sniffing petrol in his mother's house when police banged on the door and asked him to come out. Ms West said her brother, who was released from prison two months ago, was scared he was going to be arrested. He refused.

He eventually decided to leave and went to the front of the house with a lighter and a two-litre orange juice container full of petrol, she said.

"He must have put petrol on his face, then the policeman shot him with the Taser, that's when the flames happened," she said.

Ms West said there were two police officers present, a male and a female. She said the male officer fired the Taser and the female officer rushed into the house and asked Ms West to get water to douse the flames.

A police spokeswoman said last night that a male police officer fired the Taser when Mr Mitchell ran at police with the petrol container and refused to stop when asked.

She said Mr Mitchell then caught alight and the police officer immediately went to his aid, smothering the flames with his arms. She said at the same time the male officer was hit in the head with rocks thrown by an 18-year-old woman.

Another case involving an Aboriginal called Mr Spratt was repeated Tased by police in West Australia whilst be shackled and handcuffed in a police watchhouse. The footage which recently appeared on ABC Australian Story involving Lawyer John Quigley was horrendous. It showed repeated misuse of the Taser as well as fake trumped up charges to try and justify the torture.

Queensland had halted the roll-out of Tasers to general-duty police after the death of a man last month who had been stunned 28 times.

NSW will introduce Tasers to general-duty police this month, while Western Australia already issues them to general-duty police.

Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT have restricted the weapons to specialist tactical response squads.In my view the Taser should be restricted like this in all states. The temptation to use the Taser as form of punishment seems too great to stressed and overwrought police working on the from line. Senior police claim that it deescalates potentially lethal situations. Australia does not have the widespread use of firearms like the United States as such lethal weapons are not required to be used in the number of incidents that the US does. As such the gun threat argument is a mute point to the Australian situation.

The Australian reported on July 13 that Victoria's Office of Police Integrity had recommended that as the state's force had failed to tackle the shoot-to-kill culture that made it the nation's most deadly force,

 The case of Mr Spratt in Western Australia is another case in which the misuse of a Taser is well documented.  Despite video camera footage West Australia Tactical police officers repeated used the Taser against a  shacked and handcuffed prisoner Mr Spratt.  Had it not been for the gallant efforts of former Police Union Defender and noe Opposition Attorney General John Quigley nothing would further have come of the Mr Spratt  matter.  It is clear in the video footage replayed on ABC Australian Story TV programme that Mr Pratt was repeated Tasered in a Torture like fashion on a number of occasions over a few day.  The Video footage is horrific you would think given the police lock up is continually monitored by Video Camera that police would have exercised far more restraint and used the Taser Lawfully if at all.

Although Tasers were originally proposed as alternatives to lethal force, they have entered routine use as a way to incapacitate suspects or as a "pain compliance" method at times when the use of firearms would not be justifiable. The American Civil Liberties Union alleges that, since 1999, at least 148 people have died in the United States and Canada after being shocked with Tasers by police officers.Police departments counter that while Tasers were used to subdue these individuals, their in-custody deaths were un-related to their encounter, and could have likely been caused by more traditional police impact weapons (like batons).


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    • profile image

      Stef H 

      6 years ago

      Nobody has an issue about the use of tasers for self defence. But when policing agencies use tasers for "pain compliance" . . . we have some serious issues. Any cop who needs to taser someone more than once is no longer using the weapon for self defence. When I hear the story of a man dying after being tasered numerous times we should ask what alternatives were then used instead of a taser. The words "stop resisting" is the standard before a shot with a taser. but what they really mean is "Do as you are told or I will taser you?" or should it be "Do as you are told or I am legally authorised to commence an act of torture (because you are no longer a threat, but you wont do as you are told)"

    • profile image

      Cla rah 

      6 years ago

      would you rather a Taser or a Gun pointed at you ?

    • barryrutherford profile imageAUTHOR

      Barry Rutherford 

      7 years ago from Queensland Australia

      If only they were harmless but w e know there have been so many deaths following the ise of the Taser. Either they are the final nail in the coffin to someones poor health or they are just plain lethal.

    • profile image

      Website Examiner 

      7 years ago

      I have often been wondering about this issue. These weapons seem to have been accepted so uncritically, almost as if they are harmless. I found this article most informative, with lots of relevant details based on dependable sources.

    • profile image

      Self Defense Weapons 

      7 years ago

      TASER is a great weapon of choice as long as you don't abuse it's capabilities. TASER is designed to bring a person down with less-lethal results. Firearms, well we all know that if you get shot, depending on where you are hit, you can pretty much die!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Are you guys crazy, the man came out of the house with petrol and a lighter. The last time I checked you will die if you burn for too long. Wouldn't that constitute deadly force. He is lucky the police didn't shoot him

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      would you rather get sot wit a taser or a hand gun and also the people geting shot with a taser are braking the law any way

    • starme77 profile image


      8 years ago

      We have very similar hubs on this - and same pic :) lol - funny - I found you through the links - Neat Hub - glad to be a follower - I hate taser guns myself - :)

    • barryrutherford profile imageAUTHOR

      Barry Rutherford 

      8 years ago from Queensland Australia

      depend in the US the stats r good because gun deaths are terrible

    • jeanie.stecher profile image


      8 years ago from Seattle

      I would agree that tasers should be used instead of any other lethal weapons. If according to the news,it killed 245 deaths, they should see how many deaths are there when a gun or firearm is used. We just need to see both sides, not only one. If tasers has a record of 245, do htey know how many a gun did? just a query.

    • wesleycox profile image


      9 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Agreed, that sounds awful being hit on the nose. Taser guns are pretty dangerous. The handheld ones are cool though because you control where it touches. Great hub.


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