Aussie police tasered man '14' times before death
October 9, 2012, 12:00 am TWN
SYDNEY -- An inquest into the death of a Brazilian student chased by Australian police through central Sydney was told Monday that officers fired their Taser stun guns at him at least 14 times before he died.
Roberto Laudisio Curti, 21, had shared a tab of LSD with two friends in the hours before the incident in March and the court heard that he was acting erratically before the police pursuit began.
"There were a total of 14 discharges applied to Roberto," said counsel assisting the inquest Jeremy Gormly, adding many of the Taser shots did not hit him.
Police gave chase after Curti, who was unarmed, allegedly stole two packets of biscuits from a city convenience store. In his paranoid state, the young Brazilian showed great strength in evading them.
The court heard police used pepper spray, a baton and other force before deploying the Tasers, which use an electrical charge to incapacitate a person. As more officers joined the pursuit Curti was eventually pinned to the ground. Shortly afterward it was noted he was not breathing.
In the days after the incident, police defended their use of the Tasers but the death prompted calls from Brazil's consul in Sydney for an explanation.
Curti's brother-in-law Mike Reynolds told journalists that the family, some of whom traveled from overseas for the inquest, were hoping for answers.
"He was a 21-year-old young man with a bright future and his death was simply a pointless waste of life," he said.
In a statement to national broadcaster ABC, Curti's family in Brazil said it was watching proceedings closely.
"The inquest is very important for all of the extended family and we trust that we'll get the full truth as to what happened on that awful evening," the statement said.