Graphic security camera footage of Australian police repeatedly stunning an unarmed man with a Taser gun has rekindled a debate in Australia about whether security forces are making excessive use of stun guns.
The video shows an unarmed aboriginal man zapped with a stun gun eight times while surrounded by nine police officers, becaused he had refused to undergo a strip search. The man, who was reportedly stunned another five times off camera, appears to be screaming in agony.
The incident occurred in August 2008 in a detention facility in the western Australian city of Perth, but the security camera video was released publicly for the first time on Monday as part of a report by the state Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC). It cited the case as an example of police officers wrongfully using a stun gun. The report found Tasers were being used disproportionately against aboriginal people and that the police's use of Tasers on aboriginal people had doubled in the past two years.
The West Australian Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) said that the incident revealed in the video was far from isolated. "There's a history of the way the police treat aboriginal people in this country and, more particularly, in [the state of West Australia]," ALS chief executive Dennis Eggington told the Australian Associated Press.
After the incident, police held an internal inquiry and fined two senior constables AU$1,200 (€835) and AU$750 (€522) respectively for using excessive force. None of the officers in the video were suspended.
On Monday, Western Australia state police said the incident was totally unacceptable, and not typical of Taser use by the force. State Premier Colin Barnett has dubbed it a major breach of procedure and demanded a review of Taser guidelines.