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Pepper-spray of 5-year-old underlines danger

Campaign Against the Taser
P.O. Box 10230
Dominion Road

9 July 2006

Media Release:

Pepper-spray of 5-year-old underlines danger in introducing tasers

Campaign Against The Taser.com is deeply concerned at today’s Herald on Sunday report of a 5-year-old being caught up in a pepper-spraying incident when police attended a domestic dispute in West Auckland early on Saturday morning.

According to witnesses the incident involved three women being pepper-sprayed, including two who were pregnant, and the 5 year old was caught up because “[the Police officer] was spraying everywhere” according to one witness.

“If this situation is as described by witnesses then it means that the police have failed to follow their guidelines on pepper-spray”, says Campaign Against The Taser.com spokesperson Marie Dyhrberg, barrister, “and cannot be relied upon to follow guidelines for the use of the more dangerous taser.”

The police plan to introduce tasers into New Zealand by arming front-line police with the weapon from September.

“The taser is a much more dangerous weapon which has been shown to be lethal in more than 180 cases overseas”, says Ms Dyhrberg. “Issuing tasers to police officers when the whole pepper-spray issue is so controversial would be like throwing petrol on a fire.”

“There are already several cases under investigation involving inappropriate police use of pepper-spray before yesterday’s incident. With this 5 year old being caught up with pepper-spray it is time for a cool-headed appraisal of the use of pepper-spray and no time to be introducing another weapon into policing.”

More than 180 people have died as a result of tasering in North America. The latest death was on Saturday night when Cincinnati police tasered a man found walking on an Interstate motorway. Emergency medical crews were called to the scene. The man’s vital signs weakened, and he was taken to University Hospital, where he pronounced dead around 8 p.m.
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