The NSW Coroner investigating the death of a Brazilian
student repeatedly tasered by police in central Sydney has
recommended five officers face disciplinary proceedings.
Delivering her findings into the death of Roberto Laudisio
Curti at Glebe Coroner's Court today, State Coroner Mary
Jerram said the actions of some officers involved excessive
force and were "in some instances even thuggish".
She also recommended that police review their use of tasers,
training procedures for the use of the weapons and whether
they should be issued to probationary officers.
She was scathing in her criticism of some officers, saying at
times their evidence bore no credibility and was self-serving
Mr Curti, originally from Sao Paolo, died at the scene after
several officers discharged their Tasers at him 14 times and
used capsicum spray, handcuffs and batons to restrain him
after a chase through Sydney's CBD on March 18 this year.
The two-week inquest heard the 21-year-old was suffering from
an adverse reaction to a small amount of LSD he had taken
with mates the night before to celebrate St Patrick's Day.
He stole two packets of biscuits from a convenience store and
some police officers mistakenly believed they were dealing
with an armed robber.
Two officers repeatedly drive-stunned Mr Curti, or applied
the Taser directly to his bare body at the same time, while
others used up to three cans of capsicum spray to subdue him
while he lay handcuffed on the ground, the inquest heard.
Most officers said they did not hear Mr Curti wailing,
calling out "help" or "what did I do?" as they tried to
restrain what many of them described as his "superhuman
The coroner also referred the actions of the officers to the
Police Integrity Commission.
She said they had been swept up by "an ungoverned pack
mentality, like schoolboys in the Lord of the Flies".
Ms Jerram said taking down Mr Curti involved "a frenzy of
officers" most of whom were inexperienced and some "behaving
out of control".
She concluded there was no specific cause of death but she
ruled Mr Curti died in the course of being restrained by
members of the NSW Police Force.
The coroner said Mr Curti was a fit and healthy young man
whose intake of LSD that day had made him paranoid and
fearful, but he posed no threat to anyone else and perhaps
not even to himself.
Police should consider prohibiting the use of tasers in
"drive-stun" mode, the coroner said, and also ensure officers
were fully trained in avoiding "positional asphyxia" when
Ms Jerram said the case had been extremely distressing for
the family of Mr Curti, who was a much loved young man.
She praised the two police investigators involved in the
Outside the inquest, Mr Curti's brother-in-law Michael
Reynolds read a statement saying the family was still in
shock and full of sadness and anger.
"The coroner has highlighted how excessive, reckless and
thuggish some of the police officers were on that evening,"
Mr Reynolds said.
The family supported the coroner's recommendation that five
officers face disciplinary action, he said.
But the family and its lawyers believed that criminal charges
should also be laid and has made a formal request to police
to pursue such charges.
"Whilst nothing will ever bring Roberto back, we continue to
push for those responsible to face the consequences for their
appalling behaviour on that night," Mr Reynolds said.
"By doing this we hope to prevent other young people and
their families from suffering the way that we have."