West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has backed a WA Police decision to internally investigate police dealings with a man who was tasered by officers on three different occasions.
In August 2008, an unarmed Kevin Spratt was tasered 13 times while in custody and surrounded by nine officers at the East Perth Watch House.
He was later tasered another 11 times by Corrective Services officers.
It’s now been revealed that police also had tasered Mr Spratt on another two occasions, a week before the lock-up incident.
Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan on Monday said he had launched an internal investigation into how police had dealt with Mr Spratt because he wanted to set the record straight.
The investigation would not include the watch house tasering incident.
“My concern is that the public are hearing a lot of allegations being made and there’s no clarification of those things so that’s why I want to do this internal investigation,” Mr O’Callaghan told ABC Radio.
“Unfortunately, as part of that process, we have to talk about Mr Spratt’s behaviour because you can’t actually talk about the justification of a Taser application in the public domain unless you have the corresponding context for it.”
Police released a flow chart showing Mr Spratt’s recent history of offending and police responses but Mr O’Callaghan denied there was any attempt at a smear campaign to justify officers’ actions.
The premier said the watch house incident was not handled well but he hoped the police investigation would be fair and put an end to the controversy surrounding the issue.
Mr Barnett said Mr Spratt had a long record and was not an innocent, law-abiding citizen.
“I guess what he (the commissioner) was trying to do is put some context to this issue,” he said.
“However, I again repeat, despite Mr Spratt’s record and despite some of his previous behaviour … that particular incident when he was sitting relatively calmly in that room and received repeated Taser assaults if you like, to me was indefensible.”
Mr O’Callaghan said he would allow the internal review, which could take several weeks, to be made public.
The investigation will be overseen by the Corruption and Crime Commission.