John at AMERICAblog points out that
UCLA policy okays use of tasers against passive demonstrators
As John sums it up: “This is sickening.”
I further agree, as I’ve said all along “Someone very high up at UCLA needs to lose their job, now.”
To accept such an inhuman policy is to further degrade both higher education and our entire society.
Here is an update from the Daily Bruin campus newspaper:
Mostafa Tabatabainejad, who was stunned several times with a Taser in Powell Library Tuesday, plans to file a lawsuit against university police alleging “brutal excessive force” and false arrest, his lawyer said Friday.
Tabatabainejad, a fourth-year Middle Eastern and North African studies and philosophy student, was hit with a Taser after failing to present identification and after he did not leave the premises promptly after being asked to do so, according to police and eye-witness reports.
Stephen Yagman, the civil rights attorney Tabatabainejad has hired to handle his case, said Tabatabainejad was stunned five times with the Taser before being handcuffed and taken into custody.
Yagman said Tabatabainejad was asked to show his BruinCard, and did not do so because, as an U.S.-born student of Iranian descent, he believed he was being singled out in an incident of racial profiling. Yagman said that to his knowledge his client was the only person who was asked to show ID.
The university has said the check was routine and such procedures include a check of everyone present.
The 23-year-old student had begun to leave the room at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when he was approached by the police, Yagman said.
“Our client (was) … already on his way out,” the attorney said.
As Tabatabainejad was leaving the room, he was approached by two officers, one of whom grabbed the student”s arm. When officers did not let go of his arm, Tabatabainejad fell limp to the floor, Yagman said.
According to a UCPD press release, at this point Tabatabainejad was found to be uncooperative and resisting the officers who then deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a “drive stun” capacity.
Yagman said the case was an incident of police brutality, which he described as “the use of great force against somebody who posed no threat.”
Interim Chancellor Norman Abrams released a second statement Friday morning, but the university has not yet commented on the lawsuit, as it has not yet been filed. Neither the administration nor UCPD have commented further on the specifics of the incident.
“Since the incident, I have been in close contact with the chief of police and have asked that the investigation into the actions of all involved move at the quickest pace possible without sacrificing fairness,” Abrams said in the statement.
But Abrams also warned against jumping to any conclusions about the incident.
“I too have watched the videos and I do not believe that one can make a fair judgment regarding the matter from the videos alone,” he said.
About 400 students rallied on campus today at noon, and then marched to the UCPD station.
When they reached the station, UCPD officers closed down the station, locking the doors, turning off the lights, and dressing in riot gear.
Berky Nelson, director of the Center for Student Programming, announced at 1:40 p.m. that three students had met with UCPD officers and issued demands regarding the investigation of the incident. The students” requests included student input in the investigation process and the temporary suspension of the police officers involved in the incident.
Nelson said the UCPD was going to meet with the chancellor to discuss the students” requests.
Yagman said lawsuits of this nature typically take a few years, but he said he believes the case will be successful in Tabatabainejad”s favor.
“My expectation is that the brutal officers will be brought to justice,” he said.
To which I say: “Let’s hope.” But don’t forget about those university officials who authorized the purchase of these weapons or those who wrote or signed off on a policy allowing their use on nonviolent students.
One lesson to be learned is that, if brutal weapons are available, the temptation to use them brutally can be irresistible.
November 20th, 2006