When Coroner labelled police'thuggish'
In November 2012 Coroner Mary Jerram recommended NSW police officers face disciplinary action for their role in the death of Brazilian Roberto Curti, a call backed at the time by Roberto's family.PT2M40S http://www.dailylife.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29bz1 620 349 November 14, 2012
FIVE police officers involved in a "reckless, careless, dangerous and excessively forceful" pursuit of a Brazilian student will be fighting for their careers as the force's watchdog examines whether any should face criminal charges such as assault and perjury.
All five were still on duty as the state coroner Mary Jerram handed down a scathing critique of the March incident on Wednesday, describing as "thuggish" the actions of officers which saw Roberto Laudisio Curti chased, stunned by Tasers, sprayed with capsicum spray, handcuffed and restrained by up to seven police at once.
Under the watchful eyes of Mr Curti's family, Ms Jerram stopped short of recommending anyone be prosecuted for the Brazilian's manslaughter, but she delivered a damning indictment of the entire episode. "It's impossible to believe that he would have died but for the actions of police."
Roberto Laudisio Curti's sister, Ana Lusia Laudisio de Lucca , leaving the Glebe Coroners Court with her husband Michael Reynolds. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
"Left alone, there is not a shred of evidence that he would have caused any harm other than to himself," she said. "[The officers] seem to have thrown themselves into a melee with an ungoverned pack mentality, like the schoolboys in Lord of the Flies, with no idea what the problem was, or what threat or crime was supposedly to be averted."
She referred the incident to the Police Integrity Commission, urging an immediate review of training and operating procedures for Tasers, capsicum spray, handcuffs, restraint and positional asphyxia.
The Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, quickly adopted all five of the coroner's recommendations, but stood by the force's use of Tasers. He said the force would consider prohibiting first-year officers from carrying Tasers, banning their use in the "drive stun" mode and re-writing vague sections of the guidelines.
Roberto Laudisio Curti. Photo: Supplied
"Clearly there are opportunities for us to improve on what happened on that night," Mr Scipione said. "We have never been opposed to change."
He said the five officers' suitability for active duty would be reviewed in light of the coroner's findings.
Fairfax Media has been told at least one of the officers is likely to be dismissed, possibly even before the PIC inquiry is finalised.
It will determine whether other charges not directly related to Mr Curti's death such as assault, affray, or perjury, are appropriate.
Scan Michael Reynolds' face, right, to see a video statement on behalf of the Curti family.
Ms Jerram said she could not find grounds for manslaughter charges, in part because no clear cause of death was identified.
Mr Curti's family made a formal complaint to Mr Scipione yesterday, demanding criminal charges be laid. They are also understood to be considering civil action against NSW Police.
The brother-in-law of ''Beto'', Mike Reynolds, said the findings were ''not a great deal of consolation for the family who will forever be burdened with the pain of losing a family member in the prime of his life''.
In 35 pages of formal findings and recommendations, Ms Jerram said 21-year-old Mr Curti was ''proffering no threat to anyone'' in the early hours of March 18 when 11 officers chased him through the city and fired their Tasers 14 times.
The football player and ''promising young man'' had earlier jumped the counter of a convenience store in an LSD-induced psychotic state but it was not until the confrontation on Pitt Street that Ms Jerram said he met his ''foes''.
She said many officers had lied to the coroner's court and acted with excessive force when they restrained Mr Curti using pepper spray, multiple Taser shots, a baton, two sets of handcuffs and ''half a tonne'' of officers.
The most senior officer involved, Inspector Gregory Cooper, gave evidence that was so self-contradictory and self-serving it was ''abhorrent'', she said.
Inspector Cooper said he told everyone to stop using their Tasers but Ms Jerram found he was simply trying to shift the blame onto more junior officers.
She said the ''wild and uncontrolled'' behaviour of Probationary Constable Daniel Barling, who stunned Mr Curti five times while he was handcuffed on the ground, showed appalling judgment and no understanding of the proper training.
However, she credited him and another officer, Sergeant Craig Partridge, for at least expressing their condolences to the Curti family.