Western Morning News

Coroner calls for Taser review after man’s death

- ROD MINCHIN rwmnnewsde­sk@reachplc.com

ACORONER has called for a review of the repeated use of Tasers after the death of a man in the Westcountr­y who had mental health issues.

Marc Cole, 30, died after a Devon and Cornwall police officer stunned him for more than 40 seconds in Falmouth in May 2017.

Earlier this year, an inquest jury in Truro concluded that the use of the Taser had “more than a trivial impact” on the father-of-two’s subsequent cardiac arrest.

Mr Cole, who was struggling after the recent death of his father, had taken a large amount of cocaine and was displaying paranoid behaviour in front of worried friends.

During the incident he jumped from a first-floor window at a friend’s home, before stabbing a woman in her garden, and was then seen to be slashing his own throat and neck.

Police arrived and – fearing for their own lives and Mr Cole’s – an officer discharged the stun gun three times.

The jury concluded that Mr Cole died from excess use of cocaine resulting in paranoid and erratic behaviour, with the use of a stun gun having a more than trivial impact on his cardiac arrest.

Following the inquest, Geraint Williams, Assistant Coroner for Cornwall, wrote a preventing future deaths report to the Home Secretary and the College of Policing, expressing his concerns about the use of Tasers.

He said there is “limited data” as to the effects of Taser upon individual­s, particular­ly on those classed as vulnerable.

“In evidence it was clear that there is no understand­ing about the potential for incrementa­l risk with multiple Taser activation­s, and no training provided as to the maximum number of activation­s, nor of their duration which is appropriat­e or safe,” he said.

“The evidence was that the training given to police officers in this aspect is as set down by the College of Policing and that it is silent as to the potential incrementa­l risk of multiple and or sustained activation­s - the so called ‘detention under power’.

“It was clear from the evidence of an intensivis­t consultant that a Taser does carry a risk,” he said, despite the claims of the manufactur­ers “but the extent of that risk is far from clear.”

“I am concerned, based upon the evidence that was led before the jury, that there is insufficie­nt independen­t data as to the lethality of Taser use and that, therefore, the advice and training provided to police officers may be deficient or incomplete.”

However there are no plans to change the advice to police. A Home Office spokeswoma­n said: “Every death in police custody is a tragedy and we have taken the coroner’s report into Mr Cole’s death very seriously. After carefully reviewing the processes and safeguards in place for the use of Taser, we are satisfied they are sufficient.”

 ??  ?? > Marc Cole, who died after taking cocaine and being Tasered by police
> Marc Cole, who died after taking cocaine and being Tasered by police

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