July 21st, 2009

Lessons in Australia

Posted in The Job - General by 200

There are probably one or two lessons to be taken from the following incident & what lesson you take will depend on how you view police use of Tasers against potentially violent (or completely innocent, depending on your viewpoint) people.

Western Australia police  were called to an incident where a male with a history of violence was sniffing petrol. He was trying to avoid arrest & ran at the police officer with a container of petrol in one hand & a lighter in the other.

Fearing for their safety, the officer Tasered 36-year-old Ronald Mitchell, who promptly burst into flames. He suffered third degree burns to his face arms and chest. It was interesting to note that the police officer threw him to the ground & beat out the flames with his hands.

Interestingly, and something which happens in various countries around the world but rarely in the UK, the police commissioner for Western Australia has come straight out to say his officer was justified in the use of such force, reminding everyone that two years ago – prior to the issue of Taser – the officer would have had the choice of doing nothing or shooting the man.

Over here the chief would say fuck-all in defence of his officers & issue a press statement saying he had voluntarily  given details of the case to the IPCC.

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6 comments

  1. Oi says:

    Krispie Critters!

    July 22nd, 2009 at 01:43

  2. Tom Gane says:

    You have to love Australian pragmatism.

    While there would be much wringing of hands, and an indecent haste to refer the incident for investigation by the IPCC here in the UK, your Australian counterparts will probably insert a small provisio in the training manual to the effect that ‘when deploying the taser for use against an assailent, exercise caution if there are inflammable materials nearby’. Job done.

    I wonder if our Health and Safety have heard about this and are putting together a plan to equip police vehicles with fire-proof blankets? I wouldn’t be surprised.

    July 22nd, 2009 at 11:14

  3. the man who fell back to bed says:

    good, but not nearly as good as good the SA home secretary who was quoted as saying a few years back something along the lines of ‘you’ve been given guns – now start using them. you see a criminal, shoot him. Thats your job. My job is to take the responsibility for that.’

    if only you could get the same backing over here for dealing with chavs like that…

    July 22nd, 2009 at 12:20

  4. Boy on a bike says:

    You’ve got to remember that this happened in WA, which is practically a different country (I’m originally from there). If it happened in Victoria, the Police Chief would have wet himself and instantly paid the “victim” a million dollars.

    Here’s a good roundup of the incident from someone that works nearby:

    http://tizona.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/why-petrol-sniffing-and-tasers-dont-mix/

    Note that one of the officers required 5 stitches to the head because a bystander attacked him with rocks as he was trying to put out the flames on Mr Sniffer. As bad as things are in some of your inner city swamps, they’re much worse in these derelict Aboriginal communities.

    July 22nd, 2009 at 13:25

  5. MarkUK says:

    I fail to see a problem – and I’m usually considered a bleeding-heart liberal.

    July 22nd, 2009 at 20:52

  6. Blueknight says:

    We were always warned to be careful with CS spray if the ‘customer’ was smoking. The liquid that carries the CS is supposed to be flammable but I don’t know of any cases where a cigarette has ignited it.

    July 25th, 2009 at 00:13

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