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Police chief: Multiple Taser incident 'unacceptable'

Taser guns emit an electrical current which temporarily immobilizes the victim.
Taser guns emit an electrical current which temporarily immobilizes the victim.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CCTV shows unarmed aboriginal man lying on the ground surrounded by officers
  • He had reportedly refused a strip search before being Tasered 14 times
  • Taser guns emit an electrical current which temporarily disables the victim
  • Footage released as part of a probe by Western Australia Police into Taser use

(CNN) -- A senior Australian police chief has a described an incident in which a man was Tasered 14 times while in police custody as "unacceptable and extremely disappointing."

CCTV footage of the incident, which happened in Perth, Western Australia in 2008, showed an unarmed aboriginal man lying on the ground surrounded by police officers after reportedly refusing a strip search. The man survived the incident and was later shown the footage but declined to press charges.

Two of the officers involved were fined A$1,200 ($1,149) and A$750 ($718) respectively but kept their jobs after an internal inquiry. Charges were dismissed against two other officers.

"Against all their training and procedures, two officers repeatedly Tasered a detainee because he wouldn't move when told, and all this while other officers watched," Western Australia Police Acting Commissioner Chris Dawson said in a statement.

Video: Tasers under fire in Australia

"The community will obviously be disappointed when they see closed-circuit television vision today of what took place," he added. "They were fortunate not to be sacked."

Taser guns emit an electrical current which temporarily immobilizes the victim by disrupting voluntary control of muscles.

The disturbing footage was released as part of a report by the state's Corruption and Crime Commission into the use of Taser guns by the force.

It said Tasers were used 3,070 times between 2007 and 2009, becoming the "option of choice" representing 74 percent of reported uses of force in 2008.

But it said this incident highlighted a "broader problem with respect to officers misunderstanding the circumstances in which Tasers could be used."

As a result, the state's attorney general called for police disciplinary procedures to be reviewed.

The community will obviously be disappointed when they see closed-circuit television vision today of what took place.
--Acting Commissioner Chris Dawson
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"There has to be some recognition that excessive use of force with a Taser is of a completely qualitatively different nature to just excessive use of force with your hands, if you like," Christian Porter was quoted by ABC News as saying.

"I think we've reached the stage now where Tasers are such important instruments for the police force that disciplinary proceedings for excessive use of force with a Taser need to be treated in a special category."

Meanwhile, police in Sydney are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death on Saturday of a man who was Tasered by officers called to investigate an alleged domestic incident.

The man lost consciousness a short time afterwards and later died in hospital, ABC reported.