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Unarmed man tasered

Date

Tasers were used by Canberra's frontline police for the first time last night, after an officer was threatened by an unarmed man following a high-speed police pursuit through Tuggeranong.

Police had tried to stop a Mazda MX6 driving with cardboard number plates at the intersection of Drakeford Drive and Marconi Crescent about 11pm.

The driver of the car refused to pull over and police gave chase.

The pursuit lasted eight minutes and reached speeds of up to 140km/h through Kambah, Wanniassa and Monash, however no other police cars became involved in the pursuit.

The pursuit ended when the driver of the MX6 lost control, crashing into a gutter along Clive Steele Avenue in Monash.

Police allege that the driver then got out of the car and rushed toward the sergeant. The sergeant, a police officer of 20 years experience, then drew and fired his taser.

Police have confirmed the man was not armed.

That represented the first use of a taser since they were handed to frontline police sergeants on August 22.

A total of 15 tasers were distributed to frontline police around the ACT, with three going to each station.

The decision had sparked criticism from civil liberties groups, including Civil Liberties Australia, who claimed the weapons were dangerous and needed to be monitored carefully. Civil Liberties Australia pointed to evidence from Western Australia, which showed tasers did not actually lead to a decrease in injuries to police officers.

The Greens also expressed dismay at the level of public and political consultation prior to the expanded rollout of the tasers to frontline police in the ACT.

Last night's incident will be reviewed by the AFP's Operational Safety Committee.

The findings of those reviews will not be made public, but Commonwealth Ombudsman Allan Asher will have the scope to further investigate any misconduct in last night's taser use.

Mr Asher had previously called on ACT Policing to immediately attach so-called "taser cams" to the devices, which would allow for greater public scrutiny over their use. ACT Policing had previously indicated an intention to attach cameras to their frontline tasers, but it was unclear when this would occur.

The alleged offender involved in last night's incident will face the ACT Magistrates Courts next week on various driving charges, including dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, exceed PCA and not obey direction of police.

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