One of the officers charged with assaulting Kevin Spratt with a Taser has described the moment he fired the weapon’s two probes at the prisoner, saying he did so in fear of his personal safety.
Aaron Grant Strahan this afternoon gave evidence in defence of four charges of unlawful assault on Mr Spratt at Perth Watch House on August 31, 2008.
The trial at Perth Magistrates Court has heard evidence that the WA Police manual stipulates Tasers are only to be used to prevent injury – either to the suspect, officers or the public.
Sgt Strahan told the court he had arrested Mr Spratt in Bayswater along with another officer, Sen. Const Brett Fowler, on suspicion of trespassing and trying to sniff petrol from a vehicle fuel tank.
After patting down Mr Spratt, who they found waiting at a bus stop, the officers found two syringes in a “bum bag”, Sgt Strahan said.
He said while Sen. Const. Fowler ran background checks on Mr Spratt in their patrol car, he and Mr Spratt initially held a conversation during which the suspect told him he was from Mt Magnet and at one stage had had broken leg.
But Mr Spratt “started to get quite agitated” and started looking around, taking in his surroundings, Sgt Strahan said.
Mr Spratt threw his jacket at Sgt Strahan and ran off, the officer said.
Sgt Strahan said Mr Spratt was arrested nearby by plain clothes officers from the central metro tactical investigations group and was face down and wearing handcuffs by the time the Bayswater officers arrived.
Mr Spratt began to hum and “bite his teeth together with some force”, which made him fearful, Sgt Strahan said.
He said despite himself and his partner being on top of him, Mr Spratt managed to lift them 30cm to 40cm off the ground.
“He was really, really strong,” Sgt Strahan said.
He said Mr Spratt managed to stand up and kicked both he and Sen. Const. Fowler.
“Later on he said something about being God and the devil,” Sgt Strahan said.
After a secure van from Morley Police Station arrived to take the prisoner to the watch house in East Perth, the Bayswater officers followed to help process the prisoner, he said.
Inside, Mr Spratt appeared calm and “was just normal”.
“I said ‘Don’t muck up in here or you will be in a world of hurt’,” Sgt Strahan said.
“He said he didn’t want any trouble, so I was hopeful it would be an uneventful passage of time.”
After initially appearing to agree to a request to go to a cell for a strip search, Mr Spratt turned around and returned to his previous position sitting on a row of bench seats in the reception area and grabbed hold of the seat rests, Sgt Strahan said.
Sgt Strahan said he drew his Taser and Mr Spratt spoke of the devil again.
“Last time I heard him mention God and the devil it ended really badly,” Sgt Strahan told the court.
He said his co-accused, former senior constable and now police auxiliary officer Troy Gregory Tomlin, came into the reception area and he later heard a Taser cycle.
Mr Spratt fell to the floor and Mr Tomlin and another watch house officer, Emanuel Bakovic, grabbed an arm each and Sgt Strahan holstered his Taser, he said.
But Mr Spratt broke free of four officers and moved towards him prompting Sgt Strahan to draw his Taser again.
“The first occasion I used the Taser, Mr Spratt had just broken free of the officers that were restraining him,” he said.
“I thought he was going to hurt me.”
The trial continues.