| Updated at: 1624 PST, Wednesday, October 13, 2010|
SYDNEY: A study into Australian police use of Taser stun guns Tuesday found that 85 percent of cases involved a person with a mental illness and 28 percent of those targeted were unarmed.
The study into a five-year trial period for the weapons among elite police in Victoria state found that while the guns were rarely used, vulnerable people accounted for a disproportionate number of cases.
"While specialist police officers are not using Tasers very often, the data about how the weapons are used suggests there are systemic problems," said Hugh De Kretser, head of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, which commissioned the study.
The study found that stun guns were used on three occasions to move people already in custody from a cell or police interview room, with 32 percent of the 83 incidents reported involving as many as five shocks.
The findings follow criticism of police in Western Australia after authorities released footage of an unarmed Aboriginal man, who was reportedly mentally disturbed, being Tasered 13 times in a police lock-up in 2008.