Victoria Police Taser Out Trans Councillor Tosh-Jake Finnigan

Victoria Police Taser Out Trans Councillor Tosh-Jake Finnigan
Image: Councillor Tosh-Jake Finnigan. Image: Supplied

Victoria Police officers tasered the state’s first and only out transgender councillor, who was reportedly armed with a sharp object and threatened self-harm. 

Trigger Warning: This story discusses mental health and self-harm, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Councillor Tosh-Jake Finnigan, who was elected to the Colac Otway Shire council last year, said the incident saw them being rushed to Geelong Hospital last week in an ambulance. 

Finnigan said they had decided to speak out about the incident, “in the interests of transparency and using my platform to help destigmatise mental illness and those suffering the effects thereof”. 

“During Wednesday evening’s Colac Otway Shire Council meeting, I suffered from a mental health emergency, which required the postponement of the meeting, and the attendance of emergency services,” Finnigan said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Emergency Services Called

The incident occurred during a council meeting on February 28, at Colac Chambers. Finnigan said they had no recollection of most of the meeting. “I am told when an item was made confidential on the fly as I was asking questions, my demeanour changed markedly, stating that I was being gagged, before placing a post-it note adorned with the word “GAGGED” over my mouth and remaining unresponsive for the rest of the meeting.”

The meeting was adjourned but matters escalated when Finnigan ended up hurting themselves. 

“At this point, emergency services were called, and upon their arrival, police elected to deploy the use of a taser to prevent me from further harming myself, and I was sent to hospital in Geelong via ambulance for emergency treatment,” said Finnigan. 

Struggles With Mental Health

The councillor revealed their struggles with mental health in the past. “I suffer from a number of mental illnesses, including Borderline Personality Disorder, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and others, and like one would for any other chronic illness, I receive treatment, take medication, and have undergone therapy to better manage the impacts.”

Courtesy of the in-depth therapy I’ve previously received, I have learned many skills which “have enabled me to best manage my illnesses and maintain a relatively “high-functioning” baseline, but sometimes, things can go awry, and I can become quite unwell,” the councillor said. 

Following discharge from the hospital, Finnigan said they were referred to a community mental health team and were continuing treatment from home. The councillor announced that they were taking a step back from some of their official duties. 

“I will be taking a step back from some aspects of my council duties, including physical full-time attendance at briefings and council meetings until I am well enough to return full-time,” Finnigan said. 

The councillor thanked community members who had supported them. 

“I care deeply about my community, and will still be making an effort to help ratepayers and residents with their issues… I would like to thank members of the community and colleagues who have reached out over the past few days with an outpouring of love and support, and offer my sincere apologies to my colleagues and the wider community for any embarrassment, inconvenience, or concern caused,” added Finnigan.

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