Shocking video of person on crutches being tasered: breath ‘squeezed out of my lungs’ 

by | Mar 7, 2024 | The Big Story, Wire

ABC reveals shocking footage of a man on crutches being tasered as South Australian Police admit use of tasers doubling in seven years.

Image courtesy ABC news.

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Original report by Eric Tlozek, ABC News, additional commentary by Nic Stuart 

The grainy bodycam footage shows a helpless man lying on a bed with a broken leg. Police announce they’re going to take a DNA sample. The man hobbles away, grabs a knife, and begins limping into another room. One policeman says, casually, “just tase him mate”. Another cop shoots the powerless man in the back. He falls badly, breaking his hip and needing hospital care. 

The shocking scene will horrify anyone who understands the confusion and vulnerability experienced so often by people with disability. The rapidity with which the situation escalated into taser use with a person sprawling helplessly on the ground, completely overmatched by police demanding he simply comply with their orders. 

The ABC’s report does not attempt to draw any findings about this particular event. There is no claim the injured man has a long-term disability, apart from his obviously broken leg. But observers will suspect the man’s inability to reason with police or understand his situation strongly suggests the possibility of acquired brain injury.

The issue is not this particular scene but rather the context. The casualisation of  violence. 

South Australia police have admitted their use of tasers has doubled in the past seven years. The SA Police refused to provide guidelines for their use to the ABC. 

Other states have different policies on the use of the weapons. NSW Police insist they should not be used on people who are fleeing or disabled without exceptional circumstances. In Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, use is banned except if “there is a likelihood of significant secondary injuries”.

Few police are trained with insights into the many complexities of dealing with People with Disability. This often establishes the preconditions for ugly situations which can easily spiral into violence.

More work needs to be done to ensure police are equipped with the tools they need to understand these situations and not simply urge them to use their weapons.