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Student Tasered at Kerry Speech

A University of Florida student was tasered for asking John Kerry a long question.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s speech at the University of Florida came to a dramatic close Monday, shortly after a vocal audience member was hauled off by police and shot with a Taser gun. The audience member was preliminarily identified by UF officials as Andrew Meyer, a UF student in the College of Journalism and Communications.

Toward the conclusion of Kerry’s UF forum, Meyer approached an open microphone at the University Auditorium and demanded Kerry answer his questions. The student claimed that University Police Department officers had already threatened to arrest him, and then proceeded to question Kerry about why he didn’t contest the 2004 presidential election and why there had been no moves to impeach President Bush.

A minute or so into what became a combative diatribe, Meyer’s microphone was turned off and officers began trying to physically remove him from the auditorium. Meyer flailed his arms, yelling as police tried to restrain him. He was then pushed to the ground by six officers, at which point Meyer yelled, “What have I done? What I have I done? Get away from me. Get off of me! What did I do? … Help me! Help.” Police threatened to user a Taser on Meyer if he did not “comply,” but he continued to resist being handcuffed. He was then Tased, which prompted him to scream and writhe in pain on the floor of the auditorium.

After the incident, Capt. Jeff Holcomb of the UPD said Meyer had been charged with disrupting a public event and placed in the Alachua County Jail. Holcomb said there would be an investigation into whether the officers used force appropriately, adding that employing a Taser gun would only be justified in a case where there was a threat of physical harm to officers.

Here’s the video:

I’ve been at plenty of these sort of forums and find these idiots who try to take them over by haranguing about some nutty agenda quite annoying. The use of potentially deadly force, however, strikes me as an excessive reaction.

Michelle Malkin has quite a bit of information on this one, including an account from an emailer who claims he was in attendance and notes that Meyer has a reputation for doing outrageous things in order to gain publicity. Still, he looks like a pretty skinny kid and was rather clearly unarmed. You’d think two trained police officers could subdue him without tasers.

Clayton Craymer observes that, “RoboSenator seems to be either completely and utterly unaware of this amazing sequence of events taking place in front of him–or completely and utterly unconcerned about it. Either way, it doesn’t say much for John Kerry.” I can’t tell from the video but it’s quite likely Kerry simply had no clue about the tasering and just figured the nut was screaming to further disrupt the event. Speakers faced with this sort of disruption are generally embarrassed or flustered and tend to respond with either lame attempts at humor or simply pretending it’s not happening.

Ed Driscoll uses the opportunity to get in a nice parody of Kerry:

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get zapped by campus security for getting too rowdy during an appearance by a man that some leading historians believe may have once been a candidate for the presidency.

In any event, this speech will surely be seared — seared! — into the kid’s memory.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. rodney dill says:

    On the other hand some of us might prefer tasering over having to listen through a Kerry speech.

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  2. markm says:

    Boy, they razed that little fella in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan….

    That kid should get a medal(s)….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. FireWolf says:

    Boy, so much for asking your government firm questions.

    ::note to self: avoid further political townhall meetings where self important people reign with an electric fist::

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Kevin says:

    The kid is obviously dumb. However, at the time he was just talking (which was long ago a natural right in this formerly great country). Then the “big bad” police say ‘I am most mighty’ and do what they do. The police have too much power (so does the state). They can come after you if they want, even if no actual person wants you arrested.
    So, I am voting for Hillary. Mommies know how to take control of every aspect of your life (nanny state). And as such may cause you to finally see that this country has derailed!

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  6. Michael says:

    Having been a UF student, I must say I’m not in the least surprised by the actions of the campus police force.

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  8. Beldar says:

    From the video you’ve posted, and from another linked from Michelle Malkin’s site (not as good video, but begins earlier and follows Meyer and the officers out of the room and down some stairs until they eventually exit the building), it looks to me like there were at least five officers within touching distance of Meyer when he was Tasered. He was clearly warned. He clearly was continuing to refuse their instructions to put his hands behind his back to permit handcuffing. He was screaming and arguing and engaging in profanity. His arms were flailing, putting the officers at some risk of injury (but not risk of serious injury). There was little to no risk of escape. There were onlookers gathering, some shouting, many taking video, but none actively interfering.

    I’m emphatically not an expert on this subject, but after reading even just a little about Taser products, it doesn’t look to me as though Meyer was “Tasered” in the normal sense of being shot with the wired darts, which would have resulted in several seconds, potentially even minutes, of “neuromuscular incapacitation” or “NMI.” Instead, he was probably simply touched briefly by a Taser weapon being used in “drive stun” mode, which produces lots of localized pain, but not even temporary incapacitation. Instead, it’s intended to inflict pain briefly to secure the subject’s voluntary compliance — which this did (they were able to cuff him). Basically, it was probably like being shocked with a cattle prod; having had one of those applied to my nipples in a high school hazing incident, I can confirm that it hurts like the devil, but you’re able to walk and talk (or curse) an instant afterwards. (Check this operating manual, especially around page 19.)

    My strong hunch, then — subject to a more informed opinion from anyone who actually has been trained in the use of these weapons, which I hope someone will add here shortly — is that this was pretty far below the “likely to ever be lethal” level of force. Contrary to your (and my) initial impression, it was very likely an amount of force that most police officers would consider objectively reasonable under the circumstances (as compared to being shot with the darts and given the full 30-second cycle). That doesn’t mean Meyer won’t sue. But it does mean, happily, that he’ll almost certainly lose.

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  9. Triumph says:

    Where’s Blackwater when you need them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Michael says:

    Where’s Blackwater when you need them?

    Once again, our much needed domestic resources are tied up in Iraq.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Len says:

    There is a lesson to be learned here: Mind your manners, especially in public settings.

    It is highly doubtful that anything like this would ever happen at a Bush/Cheney event. The people who attend these events are very carefully screened. This kid would probably have never even made it through the door.

    Looks like it may be time for the Democrats to take a page from the Republican playbook.

    This was a loud-mouth, rude, immature kid looking for attention. Unfortunately, he got what he wanted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. TheHat says:

    “Once again, our much needed domestic resources are tied up in Iraq.”

    WHAT?
    Maybe I missed something…But since when is a private security company (Blackwater) a resource that can be only be found in Iraq? Another Liberal Progressive Neo-Socialist with an agenda utters another liberal platitude. God spare us from such idiots. Please!

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  13. Michael says:

    TheHat,
    That was my tongue-in-cheek parody of a liberal troll to balance out Triumph’s parody of a conservative troll. Neither of us where being serious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Michael says:

    Len,
    I don’t think they should resort to GOP-style pre-screening, the proper response to someone like that is to dismiss them as humorously irrelevant. As James pointed out, the guest speaker will usually try to do that by making a joke.

    In this case, cutting off the microphone while the UF band starts to play in an award-style “your time is up” fashion would have undercut the speaker’s attention seeking, while simultaneously having the rest of the audience laugh him out the door.

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  16. norbizness says:

    Kerry’s response to the tasering.

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  17. Wayne says:

    Michael

    That would have bee a good option to try. Of course the student could have continue to find ways to disrupt the speech or he may have sit down. It was worth a try. If he didn’t sit down at what point should the police get involve?

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  19. Am I the only one bothered by how many conservatives seem more concerned with armchair psychologizing Kerry’s reaction than discussing the clearly abusive behavior of the police?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Michael says:

    If he didn’t sit down at what point should the police get involve?

    My point was that when the police do get involved, the attention seeker has won. It would have been far better for Kerry to interrupt him with a joke or a jab, to keep people from taking him seriously. He would have been forgotten as “the guy with the boring question” instead of widely publicised as “the guy who was tasered by police for asking a question at a political speech”.

    I haven’t watched the video, so I’m not really sure if any effort was made to diffuse the situation before the police turned it into national headlines.

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  23. ranyman says:

    The bottom line is this, if a police officer issues a stop command to an unruly person, particularly in a public setting, then that person needs to comply, if they don’t like it they can take civil action later. This could have escalated into a more serious event if left unchecked.

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  24. BeldarBlog says:

    At John Kerry’s Florida rally, Andrew Meyer wasn’t “shot” by a Taser, but merely shocked by one used in “drive-stun” mode…

    Michelle Malkin, James Joyner, and lots of other bloggers are posting about University of Florida student Andrew Meyer. Michelle has at least two different videos linked, and Neocon News has an excellent and very detailed text description (with associa…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Uncle Pinky says:

    Curse that pesky Beldar, researching and reasoning before responding.

    Seriously, though, the placement and disposition of the campus cops in the shortened video were a pretty good indicator of heightened awareness, if not actual alarm, on their part.

    Going to need more info, but it looks like this fellow has a history of pulling similar stunts, and the school and campus cops have asked for a full review. I’ll wait a bit and see what they have to say.

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  27. Wayne says:

    Michael

    I suggest you watch the video. The guy wasn’t taser simply for asking a question or making a comment. Not all people act rational at all time. Which goes to my original question, if he didn’t sit down at what point should the police get involve? Perhaps if he jumps on stage and start screaming in Kerry’s face? Perhaps you don’t think even then the police should get involved? That is why I’m asking at what point in your mind should the police get involved?

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  29. ATS says:

    A non-story. One overzealous cop. It could have been at a Shriner’s convention

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  31. bob in fl says:

    There appears to be 3 (if not more) videos of this event. I had the advantage of seeing one that began about 2 minutes prior to the start of this one. It did not show how he allegedly “…barging to the front of the line…”, as John Kerry put it.However, it did show Meyer being told his time was up & to sit down more than once, & the microphone had been shut off for approximately 20 seconds before the start of this video. Did most of you notice the audience applause as the cops stepped in? I think he asked for what he got.

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  36. Len says:

    It is looking more and more like this kid staged this whole production. If so, I hope they throw the book at him so hard it knocks him into the next century.

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  45. Boyd says:

    My initial impression from hearing the audio of this event was that Meyer was seeking attention, either because he just wanted attention, or so he can make someone else look bad (Sen Kerry, the UF police force, take your pick). The video merely confirms this.

    The cops displayed admirable restraint. I likely would have smashed the kid in the mouth just to get him to shut the hell up. That’s why I’m not a cop.

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  46. Michael says:

    Wayne,
    The police should get involved when you can’t think of any other way to stop him without him winning. Obviously the police were anticipating a stunt like this, and cutting of his microphone was a good first try, I just wish they hadn’t let him get the attention he was seeking.

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