Disturbing new footage has emerged of a man being tasered by WA Police after being pulled over for a random breath test, with the state’s corruption watchdog finding the actions of the officer involved were “unreasonable and oppressive”.
The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) report found the officer involved acted unlawfully and committed serious misconduct in his actions, which culminated in the man – who was given an assumed name of “Bill Holt” – being confined in a cell for several hours after being tasered.
The tasering incident in Fremantle in March 2017 was captured on video by one of two passengers in the man’s car.
Just hours after the report was tabled, police announced the officer was being stood aside while they reviewed the matters raised by the CCC.
The report said the incident began when Mr Holt was stopped for a breath test while he was on his way to dinner with friends.
He did not have alcohol in his system, but was issued an infringement sticker due to a broken windscreen and non-compliant accessories fitted to the car.
The report found the tasering officer, identified only as Senior Constable Keenan, believed there was a physical threat to police because of the way Mr Holt had moved his car while pulled over. He then attempted to remove the keys to the vehicle.
The CCC found a taser was wrongfully used against the driver.
Mr Holt then offered to remove the keys, the report found, but was tasered by Senior Constable Keenan just one second later – before he was taken to a police lockup, had his belongings removed and was held for several hours.
The video reveals how Mr Holt’s wife, seated next to him, began screaming hysterically after he was tasered, while another officer angrily told the man filming the incident to stop.
Once Mr Holt exited the vehicle as directed, he was shoved by Senior Constable Keenan and then arrested while the officer continued to point his taser at him.
The CCC found the tasering action was “unlawful” as Senior Constable Keenan was unjustified in his belief that Mr Holt posed a threat to the officers.
“The outcome on this night was that an ordinary citizen, on his way to dinner with his wife and a friend, was tasered in his vehicle for no good reason, arrested and locked up,” the CCC report stated.
Second constable removed name badge
The report was also scathing of another officer there at the time, identified only as Senior Constable Arnold, finding she attempted to bring an unjustified charge of obstructing police against the passenger who filmed the tasering.
The report also suggested Senior Constable Arnold, who now faces charges “under police regulations”, deliberately removed her name badge so as to not be identified in the video.
The video showed her repeatedly using her police hat to prevent her face from being seen, and telling Mr Robbins he was not allowed to film the incident.
The CCC found that numerous police investigations into the incident were “flawed”, describing one internal probe that found the tasering was justified as an “inadequate response to a very serious allegation”.
The criminal investigation barely skimmed the surface of the issues and did not appropriately weigh the evidence available,”
The ABC tracked down the man referred to as Bill Holt, who declined to be interviewed but gave a brief comment.
“At the end of the day police deal with a lot of things in the line of duty. It’s unfortunate how it’s panned out,” he said.
The man added he was “glad” the CCC had become involved after the officer who tasered him was initially cleared by police.
When asked if he would be pursuing compensation, he replied: “No comment”.
Police welcome the report
“As a matter of course, we will now review the initial WA Police investigation and outcomes to ensure the appropriate actions have been taken in light of the further investigation and analysis provided by the CCC,” WA Police assistant commissioner for professional standards Nick Anticich said.