Saturday, November 15, 2008

Police thugs in Australia again

Queensland police face disciplinary action after they held down and tasered a 16-year-old girl who had defied an order to move on because she was waiting for an ambulance to treat her sick friend. The Crime and Misconduct Commission and police ethical standards unit are investigating the April incident - during a year-long trial of tasers - which has drawn a strong rebuke from a magistrate of the Brisbane Children's Court.

The girl, who cannot be named, had a charge of obstructing police dismissed after the Children's Court yesterday ruled one of the two officers involved did not give adequate directions, under police move-on powers, before he and two private security guards held the slightly built teenager down, shot her in the thigh with the taser and then arrested her, initially on a charge of assaulting police.

Magistrate Pam Dowse also criticised the police officers for over-reacting to the teenager's refusal to leave her unconscious friend, a girl, before the ambulance arrived. The teenagers were alleged to have been involved in an earlier altercation with another group of tourists. Ms Dowse said it was not unreasonable for police to have allowed the group of about six to remain until the ambulance arrived, given that the number of adults present appeared to have the situation under control. "It didn't seem to be a crisis requiring such a stern response," she said.

The Weekend Australian was initially refused access to the court proceedings, following an objection by police prosecutors. Access was later granted after undertakings were given not to identify the defendant, any of the police involved or the location of the incident.

The Bligh Government has been widely criticised after this year announcing the full-scale arming of more than 5000 frontline police with the 50,000-volt tasers - barely six months into the year-long trial. According to police guidelines, a taser should not be used on juveniles "except in circumstances where there is no other reasonable option to avoid the imminent risk of injury".

In the hearing yesterday, the police officer - who said he believed at the time that the girl was between 16 and 20 - conceded he may have breached guidelines. "In hindsight, I can say yes, but at the time I didn't know she was a juvenile," he said.

A CMC spokeswoman last month said it had concerns the use of the taser had been "inappropriate and excessive". "We have have made some preliminary inquiries into the matter," she said. "We will await the outcome of the court proceedings before deciding whether further action is warranted."

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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