Five Years On, Cops Who Tasered A Man 13 Times In Custody Have Been Convicted Of Assault

Kevin Spratt being tasered. From the CCTV footage.

Kevin Spratt can’t remember much of that night, probably because of the drugs and alcohol in his system, but it was later established he was tasered 13 times.

He apparently didn’t want to be strip searched in the East Perth Watch House and the nine policemen said they believed he would attack them.

More than five years later, two policemen have been convicted of assaulting Spratt, an aboriginal, when in custody.

A compelling piece of evidence was video footage. The CCTV clip of the tasering caused widespread public outrage, including from Premier Colin Barnett who said police actions were excessive and indefensible.

Spratt was tasered on August 31, 2008, and was later convicted of obstructing police but this was later overturned.

It later emerged that one week later, while in jail, Spratt was tasered another 11 times and was treated in hospital for a collapsed lung, rib fractures and a dislocated shoulder.

In the Perth Magistrates Court, Aaron Strahan, 45, and Troy Tomlin, 34, both senior constables in 2008, have been found guilty of three charges of assault.

Between them, the two tasered Spratt nine times in just over one minute.

Neither will serve jail time. Magistrate Richard Bromfield gave both eight-month suspended sentences plus fines. Strahan must pay $3,200 and Tomlin $3,800.

The magistrate refused defence requests that the pair be given spent convictions (which would have left them without a criminal record).

Magistrate Bromfield said no reasonable person could view the CCTV footage and not be disturbed.

It was, he said, a persistent and repetitive assault on a vulnerable person.

Both Police officers previously faced internal Police disciplinary action and were fined for using unnecessary force, Tomlin $1,200 and Strahan $750.

Since the assault, Strahan has been promoted to sergeant. Tomlin is now an auxiliary Police officer.

The Police Internal Affairs Unit started an investigation in September 2008 and forwarded a report to the Corruption and Crime Commission in November 2009.

The Commission decided to finish a review of the use of tasers before dealing with the Internal Affairs Unit report.

But before the commission could do this, Police held a media conference and produced what they called a timeline of events — later found to contain errors which wrongly showed Spratt in a bad light — outlining Pratt’s alleged interactions with Police.

This prompted the Corruption and Crime Commission to launch its own investigation into the tasering and the conduct of the subsequent police investigation of the incident. This investigation recommended charged be laid against Police officers involved.

Spratt says he hopes the convictions will make it less likely others will suffer at the hands of police misusing their power.

“It is a huge relief that justice has finally been delivered,” he said in a written statement.

“I am pleased that the court has confirmed no-one is above the law, and a Taser should only be used as a last resort.”

Lawyers for Spratt say they will make a case to the state government for a compensation payment.

The two policemen could face civil action from Spratt and, depending on attitude of the Police Commissioner to the assault convictions, may lose their jobs.

The CCTV footage:

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