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Inquest shown video of indigenous Australian man being tasered 10 times before he later died

The crime report concludes that there was no criminal conduct by the police officers

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 26 May 2021 05:43 BST
Family of man tasered 10 times in two minutes speak out

An inquest in Perth, Australia, was shown distressing mobile video footage of an indigenous Australian man being tasered ten times within two minutes. He died soon after.

In May 2017, 39-year-old Chad Riley was restrained by the police in the car park of Officeworks — a chain of Australian office supplies stores — in East Perth.

The court on Tuesday was told that Riley had allegedly tried to snatch an officer’s gun and had threatened to kill the police officers present at the scene. He also had been jailed in 2015 for assaulting a police and an ambulance officer. There was a warning on the dispatch system for officers that Riley might assault them. He had past drug charges against him as well.

Family members of Riley left the room in tears when the Perth Coroner’s Court was shown the video in which Riley is seen struggling even after being tasered 10 times by the police.

The crime report into the death of Riley, authored by Western Australia Police Detective Sergeant Brett Fowler, had concluded that there was no criminal conduct by the police officers.

The court was told that Riley had been seen “rocking from side to side and slapping his forehead” that day in May of 2017. Two police officers had reached the Officeworks store in East Perth to investigate reports of a robbery, the counsel assisting the coroner Rachel Collins said. They were alerted to Mr Riley who had a history of drug-related psychosis.

When the police tried to engage with him, he refused to talk to them and instead shouted, “I am going to kill you,” reports said. This prompted one police constable, Rory Winterburn, to discharge his taser, according to the reports.

The police tried to restrain him and Ms Collins told the inquest that during this resistance, Riley allegedly made “repeated and continuous attempts” to take possession of one of the police official’s firearm and also bit on another’s arm, causing it to bleed heavily.

The police constable’s taser was “trigger-activated 10 times in less than two minutes just prior to and during the struggle,” Ms Collins told the inquest.

The footage captured by eyewitnesses at the scene showed Riley wailing. They had to wait seven minutes before the ambulance arrived.

Several attempts to resuscitate him had earlier failed. At the scene where he had been tasered, he lay on his stomach and was unresponsive. Riley was then taken to the Royal Perth Hospital where he was declared dead.

The cause of death was found to be “consistent with cardiac arrhythmia following violent exertion necessitating physical restraint in a man with methylamphetamine effect, known systemic hypertension and morbid obesity.”

Outside the court building, Riley’s mother Margaret Ugle held a sign that read, “I Can’t Breathe! BLM” in reference to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis cop Darek Chauvin.

Riley’s sister, Cassandra Riley, urged the court to release the footage that was shown to the inquest to the public. She told the Australian Associated Press: “People need to see it. Someone has to be held responsible for my brother’s death.”

The court has, meanwhile, declined to release the footage.

The inquest has been set down for six days.

“As the courtroom was being closed for a break, some in the public gallery made comments about police, suggesting they should be ‘ashamed’ of themselves,” ABC News reported.

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