A New South Wales police officer who tasered a man three times and then lied about the circumstances in court has been found guilty of both common assault and perjury.
The story so far
In June 2013, former police sergeant Nigel Davey was on solo patrol in Nowra on the NSW South Coast, when he tasered Regan Sutton three times from his vehicle.
The officer gave an official statement where he claimed Sutton had approached the car and attempted to stab him. But that version was found by an internal investigation to be inconsistent with body cam footage and other evidence.
The sergeant was later charged with common assault and the matter proceeded to a defended hearing in Nowra Local Court on 1 October 2014.
The assault hearing
During cross-examination, Mr Davey testified that he didn’t remember seeing a knife on Sutton, and that one must have flown from the tasered man’s hand and landed behind a fence, which is why a knife was never located.
Davey also failed to reconcile his claim victim was close enough to stab him, when the body cam footage showed that Sutton was five metres away when tasered.
The court heard that body cameras are automatically turned on when an officer draws a taser, and back-record 30 seconds of footage. The footage revealed the officer shouting “fuck you” before tasering the unarmed man from his vehicle, causing Sutton to fall to the ground, incapacitated and screaming.
Davey was convicted of common assault.
The perjury hearing
As a result of his false testimony, Mr Davey was charged with perjury and the case proceeded to a defended hearing in Queanbeyan Local Court on 12 December 2017.
Magistrate Michael Antrum ultimately found the former sergeant guilty as charged.
He is facing a maximum penalty of two years in prison and will be sentenced later this month.
Taser use by Police Officers
Police officers are supposed to adhere to strict guidelines for their use.
In NSW, tasers are only meant to be discharged after a “proper assessment of the situation and environment” has determined it necessary to:
- Protect human life;
- Protect an officer or others where violent confrontation or violent resistance is occurring or imminent;
- Protect an officer in danger of being overpowered, or to protect themselves or another person from the risk of actual bodily harm; or
- Protect against animals.
In finding Nigel Davey guilty, the Magistrate said it was important that tasers weren’t used to “terrorise merely unhelpful members of the community”.
A history of brutality
Mr Davey was suspended by the NSW Police Force in 2014, and has his employment was terminated in 2015.
No internal action was taken by the NSW Police Force over the incident between Davey and Sutton, because the officer “had already been removed for another reason”, being another incident involving the misuse of a taser.
Internal investigations found that Davey’s fellow officers had complained of him being “unstable”, addicted to opiates, and had stolen opiates from people he searched in the street, as well as had fabricated fact sheets.
Despite all of this, Mr Davey’s Facebook page says he worked as a teacher in the ACT throughout most of 2016 as, according to Davey’s reply to a post, he was “too violent” to be a police officer.