No doubt this story will be blown up into a huge drama by the usual suspects, but its an interesting one just the same. Happened in a remote community near my home town.
The following is the local newspapers reporting of the incident.
Tasered man burst into flames
Warburton man caught alight after police were forced to use a Taser stun gun when he allegedly ran towards them carrying a cigarette lighter on Monday. (He was threatening the officers with the can of petrol and the lighter if my insider source is correct.)
A police spokesman said the incident occurred when police responded to a complaint at a house in Warburton about midday. (Petrol sniffing is a problem in a number of remote communities, most people want nothing to do with those actively sniffing, they are erratic and sometimes dangerous, the coppers were called by the householder to get rid of the bloke)
The 36-year-old man ran of from the house carrying the lighter and a container, believed to have contained fuel.
Police asked the man to stop, but when he failed to do so, an officer used his taser.
The man caught alight and the officer went to his aid, smothering the fire with his bare hands. (A balls effort by the officer involved, clearly shows he wasn’t wanting to hurt the man beyond stopping him)
While the officer helped the man, it is alleged an 18-year-old female threw rocks at his head. (Sadly not unusual, this happens quite often in remote areas, an officer attends, uses force, then the bystanders turn on him, they may have even been the people who called for assistance in the first place)
The man suffered burns to his body while the officer received burns to his hands and a cut to his head requiring five stitches.
The effects on the body are severe, long term, and systemic. The effect is much like “chroming” in major cities, where kids inhale paint and other fumes.
More below the fold
Nasty, but given the coppers only other options were run, or escalate to lethal force, it is difficult to see how they should be blamed.
I predict the usual moochers in the Aboriginal industry will try and make this a “cause”, when in reality the following happened.
Police called by aboriginal person to attend
Aboriginal person requests police remove petrol sniffer
Aboriginal petrol sniffer refuses/threatens to set himself/police alight if hes not left alone.
Police continue to talk the man down
Man rushes at police holding lighter in one hand/petrol can in the other
Police taser man
either taser or lighter(most likely taser) ignites petrol fumes.
Man suffers airway burns due to presence of petrol fumes, what would have been minor burns are now life threatening
Police use bare hands to try and extinguish flames, burning own hands.
Bystanders/person who called police assault police officer.
Petrol sniffing is such a big problem that the government subsidises BP’s OPAL non-sniffable petrol on many remote communities. It is more expensive unfortunately, but effective.
There has also been a nasty new trend appearing since the introduction of welfare funds management and dry communities as part of the Intervention strategy. This also comes from my inside source.
Now my grandfather was a raging alcoholic for much of his life, my mother recalls him applying a thick layer of boot polish to a few slices of bread and leaving them overnight. In the morning he’d peel off the polish and eat the bread, which was soaked in the wood spirit used in polishes.
Its impossible to stop a person committed to self destruction like that, as the above article shows, it may reduce the numbers of people affected (dramatically), but it may also have worse outcomes for truly self destructive people by pushing them more to extremes.
I don’t have an answer, anyone that does feel free to comment.