Aim was to disable, handcuff Repeat tasers ‘ not harmful’
AN Ayr policeman thought taser activations would not seriously hurt Antonio Galeano so he used the device repeatedly on the 39-year-old in the belief it was not doing him any harm.
‘‘ I didn’t think it was hurting him,’’ Senior Constable Craig Myles said yesterday at a coronial inquest into Mr Galeano’s death in custody on June 12, 2009.
Snr-Const Myles said he believed from taser training five weeks earlier that a device, which emits a 50,000 volt shock, would only temporarily freeze an offender’s muscles.
The officer claimed he anticipated Mr Galeano would be incapacitated from an activation, for around five seconds, so he could be arrested.
‘‘( So) that there would be a chance there to get in and handcuff him,’’ Snr-Const Myles said.
The policeman, who claims he used the taser eight times on Mr Galeano, later told colleagues that the device did not appear to work as well as he was taught because some activations were not effective. Data downloaded from the taser has recorded up to
Antonio Galeano 28 activations, but the Snr-Const claims he does not remember using it on that many occasions.
‘‘ I don’t recall doing that 28 times . . . That’s the way it seems ( but) I did it eight times,’’ he said.
Unde r q u e s t i o n i n g b y t h e Galeano family’s defence barrister, Harvey Walters, the SnrConst said he thought the eight activations were appropriate and justified. ‘‘ I did the best I could at the time,’’ he said.
He added he only wanted to help Mr Galeano, who he thought was suffering from drug-induced in- t oxication after being f ound naked, blood-covered and ranting inside his girlfriend’s Brandon unit around 3am.
‘‘ As soon as I saw him there with the injuries he had, I wanted to take him to hospital . . . I was trying to get him help for the drug overdose he had,’’ he said.
‘‘ I was trying to calm him down and make sure he wasn’t a danger to himself or someone else first.’’
The officer said he then activated the taser outside three times through the Green St unit’s bathroom window because Mr Galeano was trying to climb out with a weapon and then inside five times to subdue the man.
After being handcuffed Mr Galeano’s face went ‘‘ a smoky ashen dark’’ colour and he was found to have no pulse.
CPR was performed but the inquest heard there was evidence attempts might not have been immediate because triple-0 phone calls recorded a five-minute delay after it was noticed the deceased man wasn’t breathing.
Sen-Const Myles, denied it took that long and said ‘‘ there didn’t seem to be any delay to me’’.
The inquest, before deputy state coroner Christine Clements, will resume in Brisbane on March 21.