Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Thursday, 3 January 2013
Monday, 12 November 2012
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Saturday, 27 October 2012
In this report about taser use, Ray appears from the 5m10s mark:
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
the last 3 or 4 weeks have been very busy ones mostly related to the police use and criminal misuse of tasers.
the coronial inquest with nsw state coroner ms. mary jerram presiding ran for 10 days and the actions of the police during the inquest left much to be desired. the counsel assisting the coroner, sc jeremy gormly, in his examination of the many police witnesses perhaps the family may have been heartened that the hard questioning he done was aimed at finding the facts of roberto's death and of finding the guilty parties among the 11 police officers involved. i, however, clearly remembered the equally strong questioning of the redfern police by (now) justice elizabeth fullerton during the inquest into the death of tj hickey back in 2004 where the police were exonerated by the then state coroner, john abernethy.
in both inquests it was more than obvious that there had been collusion between the officers involved to all tell the same story. both inquests showed quite clearly that making sworn statements on oath means nothing when police are being threatened with a malicious and/or criminal act prior to the death of the victim.
sc peter hamill relentlessly questioned the police involved in the chase, pepper-spraying using about 2 1/2 cans, tasering/drive-stunning roberto at least 14 times and physically holding him down with hands, batons, feet to a point where it was described that roberto had some 1/2 ton of police on top of him.
then senior sergeant greg cooper, who was the senior officer at that time of the event, (he has now been promoted to the rank of inspector. same as s/s chris hurley after he killed mulrunji doomadgee on palm island in 2004. why such promotions are given after the death of a victim of police brutality i will leave to your thinking.), he had his knee firmly embedded into roberto's abdomen thus restricting his breathing. this is the favoured 'restraint' used by police when they have the person of interest on the ground.
greg cooper claimed in evidence that he had ordered the junior officers present to put their tasers away as he considered roberto to be under control. this direction was ignored by most officers present. constable lim tasered roberto once more whilst a probationary constable, fresh out of the police academy, drive-stunned roberto at least 5 times. one police officer is seen in the taser-cam to have his hand around the throat of roberto whilst another unidentified officer had what i described in a previous post as a sleeper-hold that can kill but this was explained away as the officer looking for a pulse. the taser-cam shows that roberto is screaming in pain from being tasered and/or drive-stunned yet this officer is looking for a pulse?
all officers claimed they could not identify other officers as they came from three different stations. they could not hear roberto screaming in agony and knew nothing about the tasering/drive-stunning.
the court involved itself in the surreal investigation of the trauma known as excited delirium that taser inc. has been using as an excuse to whitewash the fact that tasers kill over many years. we then were informed that whilst police are involved in a chase and an arrest they then suffer from perceptual problems that allow them to emulate the three wise monkeys. one of many harrowing moments was the playing of the taser-cam as roberto is tasered and drive-stunned. his screams of pain and calling for help was dreadful to hear but those who did hear something attempted to explain it away by stating that roberto was 'keening' not because of pain or anguish but because of the lsd he'd taken. i have been to funereals here and in png and have observed and heard keening, a pitiful lament for the dead. what i heard coming from the taser-cam was a very much alive pain. a pain caused by those police involved in his torture.
the coroner, along with gormley and hamill, were scathing in the evidence of the police witnesses involved in the death of roberto and several times expressed their frustration at the answers to questions put to them. identical to the tj hickey inquest.
an interesting discussion occurred between the above named three and a police trainer of senior sergeant rank. during a long discussion it was stated that whilst officers involved with the roberto event may have heard the direction of officer cooper, or may not, the point is that each individual officer is given the right not to follow such orders as may be given if they personally judge that to do so may lead to them possibly being injured or the possible injury of their fellow officers. this understanding leaves enough wriggle-room to drive a fleet of trucks through. it was to be assumed that the senior officer may not have a full view and full knowledge of the circumstances. whether greg cooper even made the order is questionable.
sadly the family of roberto learnt first-hand that this is what is called justice in this country. on the 10th day after receiving both written and verbal submissions the coroner made it known that no police officer would be referred to the director of public prosecutions as it was not factually known how roberto had died. unbelievable! all officers involved had not only trashed the orders within the police standard operating procedures manual but had clearly, collectively, been involved in the death of roberto. again the police have shown that the bar of justice is extremely high, if it exists at all, when it looks at the guilt of police officers.
the reasoning of ms. mary jerram was posited on the evidence given by medical and technical experts that the death of roberto could not be blamed on the tasers alone, nor the over-use of pepper-spray or the normal restraint methods of restricting the breathing of those they become involved with. pressure points aside, surely after the physical and mental exertion that roberto had put himself through the last thing he would want is to have his breathing restricted. that was evidenced by him attempting to lay on his side so that he could breathe more easily but every time he tried to do so he was pepper-sprayed or drive-stunned and then forced onto his back again until he was finally rolled over onto his stomach and his hands cuffed behind him. but by then he'd stopped breathing.
excited delirium indeed.
it was horrible and stressful to sit through this inquest of roberto but for the family it was incredibly distressing. to sit through the taser-cams, to see the police lying through their teeth, to hear men of legal training attempt to back up the lies of the police and so water down the justice that is allegedly being sought is always extremely onerous for the families involved. to be in a court room with many armed police is most intimidating and coroners and judges should, no, must order the police to come unarmed into their courts. this over-the-top support method for their own is used by the police and must cease forthwith.
coroner mary jerram will hand down her findings at the glebe coroners court at 9am on 14 november, 2012. the death will be put down to misadventure, no police will be charged although some may, and i stress may, be recommended for some form of discipline perhaps and/or retraining in the standard operating procedures and the use of tasers and semantics into the procedures manual.
the laudisio family wanted roberto's death to at least change the system to make it safer for others who get involved in police actions. that has been the fervent prayer and wish of all death in custody families that have lost a loved one due to the complete lack of duty of care towards their victims or their failure to accept that even peoples of interest have human rights also. but as long as police are assisted by our legal and government systems to have a much higher accountability level than others the deaths will never end. police are not untouchable but that is an intrinsic part of their training, it is known as the 'police culture'.
today the nsw ombudsman, bruce barbour, released his 200-odd page report titled 'how are taser weapons used by the nsw police force'. i have yet to read the full report but a browse through the report and its 46 recommendations gives me, and i would suggest many others, no satisfaction or hope of change in the ranks of the police. he points out that the recommendations he made in his 2008 report had not all been implemented or had been ignored. if that is the yard-stick by which these 2012 recommendations are to be judged then we could very well be requiring another ombudsman's report in 2016 but how many will die by the use of the taser, in combination or alone, is as yet unknown.
the killing of roberto is not a part of this report. i firmly believe it should have been. the ombudsman's office should have been represented during his inquest so he could be made aware of the nefarious actions of the police, both on the day and in the coroners court. perhaps there may have been some obscure legal reason why it could not happen. perhaps he already knows?
that people have died as a result of taser use is not denied but bruce has been timid in his report. he knows full well that to change the culture of the police force one needs to firstly remove the practice of police investigating other police and the tactics and actions of those other police. the report calls for the taser executive committee to monitor the frequency of taser use and evaluate the impact of changes to the threshold for use of a taser. rec 8. recs 22 and 23 call on the taser review panel to also make certain specified investigations and evaluations on taser use. recs 24 to 29 requires that the panel is also charged to change their operating procedures, forms and investigations to include oversight of every taser use.
such recommendations are valuable but not when they remain under the control of internal police units. by law the ombudsman's office has oversight of police investigations, why could it not be recommended that someone in the police investigation unit of the ombudsman's office be given this important role? everyone knows that you cannot trust police to investigate other police, so why continue to leave these investigations with them. if bruce really wants change then he must make real change. he hasn't done it.
recommended changes to the standard operating procedures include semantic changes, procedural changes to taser use and calling an ambulance as soon as a taser is used. all good thoughts but all too easily ignored during police operations when only their own safety is uppermost in their minds.
there are no recommendations that tasers be withdrawn from service for a two year review period as in the 2008 report, nor that probationary constables, at least, not be issued with tasers or glocks. this was raised in the roberto inquest but police and their legals argued it was not operationally practical to do so. we need to remember that it was a pc that drive-stunned roberto 5 times in quick succession and saw nothing wrong in doing that.
bruce, i'll give you an e for effort for your comprehensive report but i doubt that there will be any major change in police practices. as long as they can hide behind the deaths being caused by extreme delirium and the systems agree, then there is no hope in my mind.
i remind all that isja will be holding a forum - taser! taser! taser! - on 16 november 2012 at the tom mann theatre in chalmers street, near central railway, beginnining at 6.30pm.
confirmed speakers are dr thalia anthony, senior lecturer faculty of law at university of technology sydney and dr carl hughes, independant forensic consultant.
more to be advised