Tasered student inquest
An unusually high amount of digital evidence has been submitted to the inquest investigating the death of Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti after he was Tasered by police.PT2M8S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2793z 620 349 October 8, 2012
SHIRTLESS, barefoot and bleeding, the Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti was lost in a drug-induced haze of paranoid anxiety and terror.
Roaming the streets in the pre-dawn light, the ''impressive and promising'' young man was on a tragic collision course with death.
Within minutes of his first interaction with NSW Police, Mr Laudisio Curti, 21, was dead on the pavement, multiple probes and wires from their Tasers embedded in his flesh.
His desperate final moments were revealed in a Sydney court yesterday, as the State Coroner, Mary Jerram, opened a public inquiry into the event.
Many of the uniformed police in the public gallery had legal representation. Their actions that night are expected to be examined closely during the two-week inquest. Why did they use their Tasers 14 times? Were three partial cans of capsicum spray necessary? Did a ''categorisation issue'' lead them to respond excessively, thinking Mr Laudisio Curti was armed and had robbed a convenience store?
Ana Luisia Laudisio de Lucca was close to her younger brother, whom the family called Beto. He had been staying with her and her husband Michael Reynolds in Balmain since his arrival in Sydney about a year before.
She last spoke to Beto at 4.31am on Sunday, March 18. It was an ''exceptionally uncharacteristic phone call'', counsel assisting the inquest Jeremy Gormly, SC, said. Beto asked her: ''Why do you want to kill me?''
''His sister, concerned and thinking him intoxicated, directed him to come home but his phone ran out in the meantime and her subsequent attempts to telephone him were unsuccessful,'' he said.
Her brother had consumed one-third of a tab of the hallucinogenic drug LSD with two friends some time before midnight and was having a severe adverse reaction.
By the time he entered the convenience shop in King Street shortly after 5am, his movements had been captured by no fewer than 50 CCTV cameras.
Video: CCTV footage of Roberto's final moments
In the shop, he said people were trying to kill him. ''He was speaking with fear … he said he was a messenger of God (but) thoughts and language of that type form no part of Mr Curti's history,'' Mr Gormly said.
He took two packets of biscuits and left, saying only: ''Don't tell anyone''. But outside, a street cleaner telephoned police.
''I saw the guy just jumping the [cashier's] cage,'' the caller told the triple-0 operator. When asked if there were weapons, she said: ''I didn't see (any).''
''Due to a categorisation issue arising from her standard procedures, the triple-0 operator passed the report to police as an armed robbery,'' Mr Gormly said.
''It was subsequently corrected … but at least one responding officer continued to refer to the incident over the radio as ''the armed robbery''.
Mr Laudisio Curti was next seen removing his shoes and socks in a darkened corner of Australia Square, before going south along Pitt Street.
With CCTV cameras tracking his movements, police collided with him at 6am. But Beto's paranoia kicked in again and he started running.
He was tackled three times and struck by five Taser probes.
Witnesses heard the ''zap'' of Tasers and officers screaming. Police described his ''super human'' strength against restraint. Mr Laudisio Curti put up a desperate fight against his torment. And lost.
''The question is,'' Mr Gormly said, ''what causally contributed to the death of Mr Curti? Something did. His death would not be reasonably viewed as coincidental.''
The inquest continues today.