November 21st, 2006
UCLA is even more complicit in the brutal Tasering of a student last week. It turns out that the officer involved had been kept on the force despite two prior brutality complaints and being recommended for dismissal. Of course we should keep in mind that he was cited as “Officer of the Year” in 2001. Makes you wonder what the criteria are.
Duren said Monday that he joined the UCLA police force after being fired from the Long Beach Police Department in the late 1980s. He said he was a probationary officer at the time and was let go because of poor report-writing skills and geographical knowledge.
In May 1990, he was accused of using his nightstick to choke someone who was hanging out on a Saturday in front of a UCLA fraternity. Kente S. Scott alleged that Duren confronted him while he was walking on the street outside the Theta Xi fraternity house.
Scott sued the university, and according to court records, UCLA officials moved to have Duren dismissed from the police force. But after an independent administrative hearing, officials overturned the dismissal, suspending him for 90 days.
Duren on Monday disputed the allegations made by Scott.
In October 2003, Duren shot and wounded a homeless man he encountered in Kerckhoff Hall. Duren chased the man into a bathroom, where they struggled and he fired two shots.
The homeless man, Willie Davis Frazier, was later convicted of assaulting an officer. Duren said Frasier had tried to grab his gun during the struggle. But Frazier’s attorney, John Raphling, said his client was mentally ill and didn’t do anything to provoke the shooting.
The campus newspaper has more information:
Court documents and complaints in reference to the case of Willie Davis Frazier, Jr., the homeless man who Duren shot in 2003, outline several other allegations, some of which include altercations with students, the Daily Bruin reported.
According to one court complaint presented in the trial, Duren allegedly woke a student sleeping in the study hall in Kerckhoff in August 1993, escorted him outside, slammed him against a wall, and handcuffed and arrested him.
The complaint also stated that on the way to the police station, Duren told the student, “For a while there I thought I was going to have to ‘Rodney King’ you.”
In 2002, Duren had a verbal confrontation with another student, Kirk Zhong, which resulted in Zhong being arrested, according to an incident report.
Zhong said the confrontation began when he walked by two officers questioning a homeless man and they began yelling at him.
According to the report, Zhong took a combative stance against the officers by clenching his fists.
Zhong maintained the report was unfounded because he was carrying books, so he could not have clenched his fists.
What does it say about UCLA and its administration that such a loose cannon has remained on their force for two decades? That brutality toward students and the homeless there is simply no big deal? Just part of a day’s work in a modern university?
Certainly, if there is an justice, those responsible for keeping such a person on the force and arming him with a brutal Taser will be out on his or her ear. But I won’t hold my breath.