Six injured from police Tasers in Waitakere

JULIAN RAETHEL
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2013

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Police officers have been carrying them since 2010 and there's been a few shocking moments along the way.

Details released under the Official Information Act reveal Waitakere has the highest number of Taser-related injuries in the Waitemata region.

But most of the serious damage occurred directly after impact, not from the shock itself.

Between March 2010 and June 2013 six people were injured as a result of Tasers used by Waitakere police.

Two people were admitted to hospital with abrasions, swelling, bruising and a suspected broken nose.

Other injuries included minor burn marks or swelling from the contact stun and one person received a minor laceration to the face after falling to the ground.

In the Waitemata region 11 people needed treatment over the same period.

It's been almost four yours since police began carrying Tasers.

The battery-powered stun guns fire electric barbs which penetrate a person's skin and deliver a shock of up to 50,000 volts.

Officers who complete specified training are qualified to carry a Taser and the device is taken out of police vehicles only when required.

Waitemata District Police acting operations manager Kevin Hooper says Tasers are one of the safest tactical options available to police.

"Obviously we do not want to see anyone injured," he says.

"However, the police's prime objective is to protect themselves and the public.

"Any response will be dictated by the situation officers are confronted with and the actions and behaviour of those we are dealing with at the time."

Mr Hooper says Tasers cause the least amount of injuries and only 1 per cent of subjects have sustained further injury.

Police would not say how many times a Taser has been drawn and fired at a human target, saying the "information is not held".

Also withheld are specific circumstances in Waitakere.

Incidents around the country include a 55-year-old man who was tasered on November 3 after threatening police with an axe in Canterbury.

Another incident on May 2 saw a Porirua man tasered while threatening a pregnant woman with a knife.

St John Auckland district operations manager Derek Liefting says St John doesn't routinely respond to callouts where injury has been sustained through the use of a Taser.

"In most cases injury has come from other factors usually inflicted by the offender themselves, for example through fleeing the scene of a crime," Mr Liefting says.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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