Taser footage sought
Saturday, 20th August, 2011
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said yesterday that police footage of a man being tasered in Wilcannia should be released for public viewing in the interests of “open justice”.
The ABC was in the Local Court seeking permission to show the footage but police asked the magistrate to hold the matter over until the end of criminal proceedings against Phillip Charles Bugmy who was shot with a taser gun in February.
Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy denied that request and gave the police until next Friday to return to the court with legal representation.
The hearing of the charges against Mr Bugmy (33) were adjourned in the Wilcannia Local Court this week to December.
He is charged with resisting arrest, intimidating police officers in the execution of their duty, and using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention.
The Aboriginal Legal Service said yesterday it supported the ABC in its efforts to obtain a DVD of the footage, as did their client, Mr Bugmy.
According to the ABC, the footage from the taser’s video camera shows him being hit in the chest by electrified barbs as he kneels on the ground with his hands behind his head.
It was shown at the court hearing in Wilcannia this week and the ABC is arguing that its use as evidence in an open court means that the public at large is entitled to see it.
In its application, the ABC said that the news media had a responsibility to “uphold the principle of open justice by reporting to the public what happens in an open court.”
There was also the issue of “police conduct”, it said.
Police told the hearing in Wilcannia that they went to arrest Mr Bugmy at a house in Barkindji Drive for allegedly assaulting his mother the night before when he was drunk.
They said he had a “violent history towards police” and they decided it would be best to arrest him when he was sober.
When the three officers - one man and two women - arrived they said they saw him arm himself with a steak knife so they ordered him to drop it and get on the ground.
He dropped the knife but refused to lay face down and instead remained on his knees, the police said.
They said they repeatedly threatened him with the taser but he refused to submit and, fearing a “violent confrontation”, they fired it at him.
Mr Bugmy was then handcuffed and taken to the police station where, the police said, he threatened to kill them.
The charge against Mr Bugmy of assaulting his mother was later withdrawn through a lack of evidence.
The Aboriginal Legal Service is arguing that the force used by police in arresting him was excessive.
The hearing is set to resume in Wilcannia on December 15.