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Sydney man dies after police use Taser during robbery

The use of stun guns by Australian police is again being questioned after a man hit by a Taser died in downtown Sydney.

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A poster advertising the Taser X-12 shot gun which can deliver the Taser XREP electronic control device by arms manufacturer Mossberg is seen at the Taser stand at the European Police Congress in Berlin February 15, 2011. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The use of stun guns by Australian police is again being questioned after a man hit by a Taser died in downtown Sydney.

The the man was allegedly committing a robbery when police arrived and used capsicum spray and a Taser to subdue him after he resisted arrest, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The man stopped breathing and could not be revived despite efforts from police and paramedics, according to the ABC.

The area where the man died was cordoned off as a crime scene, and the Crime Command Homicide Squad of the state of New South Wales had launched a critical incident investigation, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties told the ABC that police should now review their use of Tasers — described by Canada's CBC as "hand-held weapons that deliver a jolt of electricity through a pair of wires propelled by compressed air from up to 10.6 meters away."

The jolt from a Taser shot, according to CBC, stuns the target by causing an uncontrollable contraction of the muscle tissue.

Arizona-based Taser International makes nearly all the stun guns in use. While they are banned in Canada, they are considered firearms in the US and legal for civilian use in most states.

In Australia, Tasers are considered a "prohibited weapon," meaning they cannot be owned without a prohibited weapon permit, according to the NSW Police Force.

Tasers cannot be imported into Australia without written authorization from the relevant state police.

Their use by police is controversial, with at least four deaths linked to their use, according to The Australian newspaper

Cameron Murphy from the civil liberties council said police should stop using Tasers until a coronial inquiry into the death is completed.

He said the incident "clearly demonstrates that Tasers are not an alternative to the use of a lethal force. Tasers do in fact kill people and we need much more stringent controls in which they're deployed, which police use them and in what circumstances."

The NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, however, said Tasers were a clear alternative to lethal force.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120317/australia-taser-stun-gun-police-prohibited-weapon-firearm-canada-us