Police in The Hague have started an internal investigation to establish if officers correctly used a taser on an unarmed man on the Grote Markt last weekend, local broadcaster Omroep West reported on Tuesday.
The man was tasered four of five times by police officers when he did not drop to his knees, as they ordered. Eyewitnesses said the man, who was foreign, did not appear to understand what the officers were saying, even though they spoke in English.
The police have been approved to use tasers in situations where a truncheon or pepper spray are not effective but the weapon roll-out is still under way.
The video, uploaded to shock blog Dumpert, shows the man surrounded by five police officers. The man puts his hands up when ordered to kneel and was then hit by at least four taser blasts, at which point he fell to the ground and was arrested.
A police spokesman said police had responded to a report that a man had threatened someone with a knife on a nearby street. The responding officers saw the taser victim on the Grote Markt. ‘He was drunk and the officers thought he had a knife with him,’ a spokeswoman said. ‘He did not follow instructions and was tasered.’
It later transpired the man did not have a knife. He was fined for being drunk in public and released.
Police are now checking internally to see if the tasers were used in accordance with the rules, Omroep West said.
Last June, police said some 17,000 officers would be given a one-year training in the use of stun guns or tasers as part of their standard equipment starting this year.
The use of tasers, which work by firing electric charges of around 50,000 volts at a suspect from a distance, temporarily disabling them, is controversial but was given the go ahead by the justice ministry in 2019.
Amnesty International has been particularly vocal in its protests against the use of tasers. The organisation says the use of tasers can endanger lives, especially when used up close or repeatedly. It is calling for strict legislation for the use of tasers comparable to that for guns.
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