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Stabbing incident does not justify Taser trial

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


December 8 2006

Media release

Stabbing incident does not justify Taser trial

While expressing deep concern over the stabbing of a police officer with a screwdriver on Thursday night, the Campaign Against the Taser today emphasised that it does not justify the Taser trial.

In a prior incident, police had drawn a Taser on a man fleeing a burglary with a screwdriver. The Campaign Against the Taser had asked whether the man in this incident, who was running away from a house he had broken into, could have been considered a direct physical threat to anyone, or ‘assaultive’.

“The question was not whether it is possible for a screwdriver to cause harm. Of course it is possible for a screwdriver to cause harm,” Bronwen Summers, acting spokesperson for Campaign Against the Taser, said. “Many objects can become weapons. Fists can also cause harm. It is the behaviour of the person in question that turns an object into a weapon. This is the important distinction to be made, and this is the question we asked at that time. It is the only question that makes sense: would you suggest that the police attack everyone holding screwdrivers, just because they have the potential to cause damage?”

Bronwen Summers also referred to police statistics that show an overall decline in the number of assaults involving weapons of any kind, including firearms and stabbing or cutting weapons from 97 in 1996/97 to 84 over the last year.

Bronwen Summers emphasised the need for clarity in the aftermath of Thursday night’s stabbing. ‘We wish the officers involved a speedy recovery and we encourage all reasonable measures to be taken to prevent such attacks in future. But the drama of the incident should not become a justification for the Taser trial. The trial needs to be halted until there is an independent inquiry, and until we know more about the Taser from experience overseas,” she said.


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