Two WA Police officers on trial over the tasering of Kevin Spratt at the Perth Watch House in August 2008 have been found guilty of unlawful assault.
Sgt Aaron Grant Strahan and police auxiliary officer Troy Gregory Tomlin were charged with four and three counts respectively of assault by Taser.
In a decision handed down this afternoon, Magistrate Richard Bromfield upheld three charges against Sgt Strahan and three against Mr Tomlin.
A fourth charge against Sgt Strahan was dismissed.
Describing the fracas in the watch house after Mr Spratt had earlier been arrested in Bayswater, Mr Bromfield ruled the officers’ response was an unjustified use of force on Mr Spratt.
Mr Bromfield said the use of the Taser under the circumstances was an unnecessary use of force and did not amount to self-defence.
The trial, which started last Monday, has been told that Mr Spratt assaulted two police officers, including Sgt Strahan, while resisting arrest in Bayswater on August 31, 2008, on suspicion of trespassing.
All police witnesses at the watch house agreed Mr Spratt had been calm when he arrived there about noon.
Sgt Strahan had told Mr Spratt while he was sitting on a bench seat at the reception area, "Don’t muck up in here or you’ll be in a world of hurt".
After initially complying with a request to move to a cell for a strip search, Mr Spratt changed his mind and returned to the bench seat, where he grabbed on to armrest rails and refused to move.
Mr Tomlin told Mr Spratt, "Give me your arm or you’re going to get f...ing tasered, do you understand. Now!" before applying the Taser in drive stun mode, which causes pain to subjects rather than incapacitating them.
The prosecution case was that the use of force by both defendants could not be justified because Mr Spratt was unarmed, alone, and outnumbered by at least eight officers and was being non-compliant rather than violent.
The defence case was that Mr Tomlin heard Mr Spratt threaten to kill him while holding on to the bench rail and the officer feared the prisoner was about to launch a violent attack on him and his colleagues.
Sgt Strahan, who tasered Mr Spratt in the incapacitating probe mode after Mr Spratt had fallen to the floor, testified that he did so because Mr Spratt was trying to get to his feet and he too feared being assaulted.
Both officers were senior constables at the time but Mr Tomlin has since become a police auxiliary officer and Sgt Strahan was promoted in March 2010. He is currently the operations manager of the entire east metropolitan police district.
The Perth Magistrate's Court case was the third time the officers have been called to account for their actions that day.
Sgt Strahan was fined $750 and Mr Tomlin $1200 after an internal police investigation in 2009.
They were also called to give evidence to the Corruption and Crime Commission in 2010 after CCTV footage of the fracas made world headlines.
Mr Spratt is still pursuing compensation against the State of WA for his treatment while in custody in 2008, a period during which he received serious injuries including a collapsed lung and broken ribs.
The CCC hearings, which also examined the actions of a specialist Department of Corrective Services "cell extraction team" that removed Mr Spratt from the watch house on September 6, 2008, made no finding on how they were sustained.