• An Aboriginal man has died after being tasered by Western Australia. (AAP)Source: AAP
The death of an Indigenous man in Perth after being tasered by police has reignited the debate on the safety of taser guns.
Craig Quartermaine

16 May 2017 - 11:47 AM  UPDATED 16 May 2017 - 11:47 AM

The family of an Indigenous man are seeking justice in what has become the latest West Australian Aboriginal death in custody.

The 40-year-old man died following a confrontation at an office supplies store in Perth.

Mobile phone video of the incident flooded the internet over the weekend. The video shows store staff members watching on as paramedics attempt to revive Mr Riley, after he was shot with a taser during a clash with police.

There are claims that one officer was bitten, and it is reported Mr Riley tried to grab another officer’s gun. A taser was used and Mr Riley was subdued. The discharge sent Mr Riley to the ground. He then required medical assistance and later died.

Mr Riley’s family are still assessing their options, but are calling for justice for their loved one.

Human Rights Lawyer Hannah McGlade told NITV News: “It’s shocking and upsetting news that a man has died from another taser incident. My immediate thoughts were, ‘another Aboriginal person, another Aboriginal victim’, and that’s been confirmed.”

Ms McGlade, a consultant part of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, said the latest incident carries on a disturbing trend of “horrific and unnecessary” taser usage on Aboriginal people.

According to his family, Mr Riley was a father of 6 and was on heart medication, a factor that would have placed him at high risk of permanent injury.

Mervyn Eades, from the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, said that there is no doubt that tasers should be treated as lethal, and not a safe option for police use. 

There are concerns that many Indigenous people who suffer from poor health face a higher risk of death if tasered.

This is not the first time the use of tasers by police in Western Australia against Indigenous people has been linked to assault and death.

In 2014, two Perth police officers were found guilty of assault after repeatedly tasering Kevin Spratt while in the East Perth lock up. In 2006, Mr Woods died of a massive heart attack after being tasered.

Mr Eades said WA’s history with such cases only highlights the need to remove tasers as an option.

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The West Australian Police Minister, Michelle Roberts, has said the incident is under an internal investigation, so all details are not readily available at this time.

Mr Riley’s death has reignited the debate over the safety of tasers.

Hannah McGlade says since “it’s resulted in the loss of a life of an Aboriginal man, we do have to seriously question the use of tasering.”

Mr Riley’s family is still considering their options, but are calling for justice for their loved one.

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