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UCLA Taser Attack Reexamined
Posted by Beth Livesay on Aug 11, 2007 - 3:31:44 PM
LOS ANGELES—On November 14, 2006, college students everywhere cringed at the images and news reports that began surfacing about a police officer Tasering a U.C.L.A. student in the library.
The University of California Los Angeles launched an investigation in addition to the one routinely performed by the U.C.L.A. Police Department after the incident. The findings from that investigation were released a week ago, concluding that the police officer did in fact use excessive force on college student Mostafa Tabatabainejad. U.C.L.A. asked police accountability expert Merrick Bobb to investigate. Bobb’s findings contradicted those found in the police department’s investigation. That report concluded that officers did not violate campus policy when they repeatedly shocked Tabatabainejad.
Tabatabainejad was a 23 year old senior who was was asked by a police officer to present identification in the Powell Library during a routine ID check. Tabatabainejad, of Iranian descent, assumed he was being targeted based on his appearance and therefore refused the officer’s orders. When he did not leave the library, officers began tasering Tabatabainejad who ended up screaming on the floor. Several students formed a crowd and many caught the incident on cell phone cameras, later transmitting those images all over the internet. The Taser episode also sparked rallies and protest across U.C.L.A. and other campuses speaking out against the attack.
Bobb said that Tabatabainejad did bring trouble upon himself by not presenting his ID when asked to, but denounces the attack as racially motivated. However, Tabatabainejad has decided to file a lawsuit against U.C.L.A. and the police contending his civil rights were violated.
Bobb suggested that both U.C.L.A. and their police department re-examine their policies on using Tasers. Bobb stated the following recommendations in his report: “1. Clarifying the definitions of violent subjects and those displaying aggression and resistance. 2. Limiting the use of Tasers to aggressive or violent subjects. 3. Prohibiting the use of Tasers on passively resistant subjects and on handcuffed suspects. 4. Clarifying the circumstances under which a Taser should be brandished.” Bobb’s full report can be found on U.C.L.A.’s website. U.C.L.A. Police Chief Karl Ross has already begun revising some of the university’s policies.
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