UCLA Police Taser Student Repeatedly (Video)
There was a huge blogospheric reaction overnight to a student being tasered by UCLA police after he failed to produce an ID card at the Powell library.
An incident late Tuesday night in which a UCLA student was stunned at least four times with a Taser has left the UCLA community questioning whether the university police officers’ use of force was an appropriate response to the situation.
Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student, was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and then taken into custody when he did not exit the CLICC Lab in Powell Library in a timely manner. Community Service Officers had asked Tabatabainejad to leave after he failed to produce his BruinCard during a random check at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
UCPD Assistant Chief of Police Jeff Young said the checks are a standard procedure in the library after 11 p.m. “Because of the safety of the students we limit the use after 11 to just students, staff and faculty,” Young said. Young said the CSOs on duty in the library at the time went to get UCPD officers when Tabatabainejad did not immediately leave, and UCPD officers resorted to use of the Taser when Tabatabainejad did not do as he was told.
A six-minute video showed Tabatabainejad audibly screaming in pain as he was stunned several times with a Taser, each time for three to five seconds. He was told repeatedly to stand up and stop fighting, and was told that if he did not do so he would “get Tased again.”
Tabatabainejad was also stunned with the Taser when he was already handcuffed, said Carlos Zaragoza, a third-year English and history student who witnessed the incident. “(He was) no possible danger to any of the police,” Zaragoza said. “(He was) getting shocked and Tasered as he was handcuffed.”
The description of the events is pretty shocking and the video is painful to watch and listen to.
John Aravosis says the incident is “beyond outrageous” and that Tabatabainejad was merely engaging in “civil disobedience”. I’d say he was resisting the lawful instructions of a police officer and being verbally abusive. Still, I agree that the use of a taser against a skinny student for the crime of being a dumbass would appear to be an excessive application of force.
Digsby contends that this is “becoming a depressingly commonplace occurence in this country. Excruciating pain is now commonly accepted as a proper way for the police to bend people to their will.” He adds:
I’ve seen dozens of these videos and it makes me feel nauseated each time I see someone lying on the ground after being tasered while police threaten them with further pain if they refuse to comply. Inevitably these people are disoriented and confused and angry and shocked yet when they fail to properly respond, the police calmly taser them until they do. It’s the coldest application of pain I’ve ever seen.
Jack Dunphy, a police officer posting at Patterico’s, sees it a little differently. He notes that false accusations of abuse are routinely aimed at police officers as a tactic of gangs and defense attorneys. A police trainer emailing Michelle Malkin is unsympathetic as well, arguing that the officers’ only flaw here was being too politically correct in using the taser, when they should have whacked him really hard with a club one time to get the incident over with.
Tabatabainejad was asked to show his ID by uniformed officers, refused to do so or offer an explanation, and then started acting a fool when being escorted out. It’s not unreasonable that this would raise red flags. Still, the officers had no reason to believe they were in danger and could easily have subdued him, cuffed him, and dragged him down to the station.