Student dies in Taser attack – but his 'crime' was petty shoplifting

Brazilian accused of shoplifting dies after Sydney police use stun guns and pepper spray

Sydney

The family of a young Brazilian man who died in Sydney after being pursued by police firing Taser stun guns and pepper spray, because he had allegedly stolen a packet of biscuits, are demanding a full inquiry into the circumstances of his death.

In an incident which has been compared to the fatal shooting by police of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station in London in 2005, Roberto Laudisio Curti was chased by six officers who accused the 21-year-old of stealing a packet of biscuits from a city centre convenience store. He stopped breathing soon after being stunned and hit with pepper spray.

His death early on Sunday prompted calls for a review of the use of Tasers, which are supposed to be deployed by police only to protect the public. "[They] were meant to prevent fatalities rather than cause them," said Sam Lee, of Australia's National Coalition for Gun Control.

Mr Laudisio Curti, who had come to Australia to study English, was staying with his Sydney-based sister, Ana Luisa Laudisio, who works for a legal consultancy firm, and her Australian husband, a banker. The family said in a statement: "We are still coming to terms with the sudden and unexpected death of our beloved Roberto."

With Brazilian diplomats in Australia calling for an explanation of his death, labelled a "murder" by some Brazilian media, the New South Wales government promised an independent and transparent inquiry.

It has appointed the state ombudsman to oversee a police investigation. "We all want answers," the NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, said yesterday. Family and friends have denied that Mr Laudisio Curti, who was out with friends on Saturday night, was involved in a theft. "The truth is that Roberto just was walking home, the police catch the wrong guy, Taser him, and he died," a friend, Dan Silva, told The Australian. "The police killed our friend, and someone needs to pay for what happened."

The student is said to be from a well-known and wealthy Brazilian family. "He has money for everything he wants," his uncle, Joao Eduardo Laudisio, told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. He denied that his nephew had any health problems that might have been contributed to his death, saying that doctors had pronounced him "very healthy" after he underwent a medical before leaving for Australia last year.

The uncle, who has flown to Sydney with Mr Laudisio Curti's other sister, helped to bring him up after both his parents died of cancer.

Police say he matched the description of a man who stole biscuits from the convenience store, and that he resisted arrest. At least three officers fired their stun guns at Mr Laudisio Curti. The Brazilian consul in Sydney, Andre Costa, said: [Roberto] just went out for fun, like any other young male on a Saturday night, and that happened to him, so the family cannot understand it at all."

Friends of Mr Laudisio Curti are planning to protest outside the Australian consulate in Sao Paulo, and say they will dump biscuits at the gates. The family's statement said: "He was a young man who was much loved by family and his many friends, both in Australia and Brazil, and had a promising future ahead of him."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate