Police say clothing could have prevented a taser from subduing a psychiatric patient who allegedly attacked two female officers last Thursday.
Mid West-Gascoyne District Insp. Peter Foley said the officers twice tried to subdue the 24-year-old man with a taser during the incident on Lester Ave.
The officers, who required hospital treatment for bruising, called for back-up to arrest the man.
He has since been sent to Perth’s Graylands psychiatric hospital.
Insp. Foley believed the taser engaged in the incident was working correctly.
“We’re reviewing the application of the use of the tasers and we’re also looking at how the contact points of the tasers were deployed and the effectiveness — whether it was interrupted by clothing or by his mental state at the time,” he said.
He said the man escaped from a ward at Geraldton Regional Hospital after he was taken there by officers earlier in the day.
He said potential charges would depend on a medical assessment of the man’s health.
Insp. Foley said one of the injured officers was a Sen. Const. of 10 years, while the other was a junior officer. He said it was not unusual to pair female officers up on the beat.
“We work on ability and the options we have available to us in relation to rostering, strength of staff and combinations of staff,” he said.
“It’s not as simple as having a male and female officer present. If these officers have the requisite ability we’ll pair them up to do the job.”
WA Police Union president George Tilbury was “appalled” at the incident.
He called for specialised training to help officers deal with mental health patients.
“While we understand that dealing with mental health patients is an often unpredictable and difficult part of the job, we support more specialised training for our officers to deal with issues arising with those with mental health issues,” he said.“Tasers are a useful tool for frontline police officers, but it is common knowledge that they are not always a reliable method to subdue persons in all circumstances, including those with mental illness.”
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