Saturday, November 18, 2006

UCLA: the UCLA Police and Tasers

Well, I was on and a flyer kept coming up talking about police brutality at UCLA. I then popped over to and saw that people were running searches for "UCLA", "UCLA taser", etc. Clearly, something was up at my alma mater, so I clicked on the link to a video titled "UCLA Police Taser Student at Powell."

For those of you who aren't familiar with UCLA, Powell Library is one of two general libraries on campus. It's pretty much in the center of the campus across from Royce Hall. When I was there I used it for studying and for its computer lab. The computer lab is where this event took place. The video is shocking, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Here is a link to Video Shows UCLA Police Using Stun Gun On Student from the L.A. NBC affiliate, KNBC. It also has the same video along with news commentary and an interview with a witness.

Here is the accompnaying article:

LOS ANGELES -- An administrative review was under way after a 23-year-old student was administered multiple stun gun shocks by UCLA Police Department officers in the Powell Library computer lab.

Video shot from another student's camera phone shows the man screaming while on the floor of the computer lab as officers used the stun gun on him at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Daily Bruin.

He had been working at a computer in the back of the lab and had failed to produce a student ID during a random check performed by community service officers, the newspaper reported.

According to a UCLA police sergeant, the student was identified as Mostafa Tabatabainejad of Los Angeles.

He was given a citation for obstruction/delay of a peace officer in the performance of duty and then released from custody, the sergeant said.

The sergeant said he saw Tabatabainejad after it happened and that he did not appear to have suffered serious injury.

"If he was able to walk out of here, I think he was OK," the sergeant said.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Nancy Greenstein of the University of California Police Department said: "All use of force incidents require an administrative review, which is currently under way."

Officers were escorting Tabatabainejad out of the computer lab when the trouble started, according to the Daily Bruin. One of the officers placed a hand on one of his arms, to which the student objected.

As a second officer approached, he repeatedly yelled "get off of me," the newspaper reported.

It was then that one of the officers shot Tabatabainejad with a stun gun, dropping him to the floor as he cried out, according to the newspaper.

"Any student who witnessed it was left with an image you don't want to remember," said a witness who asked not to be identified.

When asked whether the student resisted when officer attempted to escort him from the building, the witness said, "In the beginning, no. But when they were holding onto him and they were on the ground, he was trying to just break free. He was saying, 'I'm leaving, I'm leaving.' It was so disturbing to watch that I cannot be concise on that. I can just say that he was willing to leave. He had his backpack on his shoulder and he was walking out when the cops approached him. It was unnecessary."

Greenstein said a Community Service Officer employed by the library was performing a nightly check to ensure that all patrons using the library after 11 p.m. were authorized to be there.

"This is a longstanding library policy to ensure the safety of students during the late-night hours," Greenstein said. "The CSO made an announcement that he would be checking for university identification. When a person, who was later identified as ... Tabatabainejad, refused to provide any identification, the CSO told him that if he refused to do so, he would have to leave the library.

"Since, after repeated requests, he would neither leave nor show identification, the CSO notified UCPD officers, who responded and asked Tabatabainejad to leave the premises multiple times. He continued to refuse. As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building.

Greenstein said Tabatabainejad encouraged others in the library to join his "resistance." She said a crowd gathered around the officers.

"The officers deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a 'drive stun' capacity," she said in the statement. "A Taser is used to incapacitate subjects who are resistant by discharging an electronic current into the subject in one of two methods: via two wired probes that are deployed from the Taser, or in a 'drive stun' capacity by touching the subject with the Taser. In this incident the student was not shot with a Taser; rather, officers used the 'drive stun' capability.

"The entire incident is under investigation, and a case will be presented to the City Attorney," Greenstein's statement read.

The video shows the student shouting, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your (expletive) abuse of power," the newspaper reported.

University police are investigating an incident late last night in which police took a student into custody at Powell Library. Investigators are reviewing the incident and the officers' actions, and I can assure you that these reviews will be thorough, vigorous and fair.

The safety of our campus community is of paramount importance to me. Routinely checking student identification after 11 p.m. at the campus library, which is open 24 hours, is a policy posted in the library that was enacted for the protection of our students. Compliance is critical for the safety and well-being of everyone.

UCLA's response (Nov. 17, 2006):

UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams Announces Independent Investigation of the Incident at Powell Library

Sphere: Related Content