xialanxue - I wonder why nobody asked Bush about this incident when he visited Singapore on Thursday. Would love to hear what he has to say.
Daily Bruin - 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."
But Young said at the time the police likely had no way of knowing whether the individual was armed or that he was a student.
As Tabatabainejad was being dragged through the room by two officers, he repeated in a strained scream, "I'm not fighting you" and "I said I would leave."
The officers used the "drive stun" setting in the Taser, which delivers a shock to a specific part of the body with the front of the Taser, Young said.
A Taser delivers volts of low-amperage energy to the body, causing a disruption of the body's electrical energy pulses and locking the muscles, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"It's an electrical shock. ... It causes pain," Young said, adding that the drive stun would not likely demobilize a person or cause residual pain after the shock was administered. Young also said a Taser is less forceful than a baton, for example.
But according to a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001, a charge of three to five seconds can result in immobilization for five to 15 minutes, which would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so.
"It is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some benign thing that painlessly brings people under control," said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of Southern California.
"The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in death," Eliasberg said.
According to an ACLU report, 148 people in the United States and Canada have died as a result of the use of Tasers since 1999.
During the altercation between Tabatabainejad and the officers, bystanders can be heard in the video repeatedly asking the officers to stop and requesting their names and identification numbers. The video showed one officer responding to a student by threatening that the student would "get Tased too." At this point, the officer was still holding a Taser.
Such a threat of the use of force by a law enforcement officer in response to a request for a badge number is an "illegal assault," Eliasberg said.
"It is absolutely illegal to threaten anyone who asks for a badge â€" that's assault," he said.
Tabatabainejad was released from custody after being given a citation for obstruction/delay of a peace officer in the performance of duty.
Neither Tabatabainejad nor his family were giving interviews Wednesday.
Police officers said they determined the use of Tasers was necessary when Tabatabainejad did not do as they asked.
According to a UCPD press release, Tabatabainejad went limp and refused to exit as the officers attempted to escort him out. The release also stated Tabatabainejad "encouraged library patrons to join his resistance." At this point, the officers "deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a "drive stun' capacity."
"He wasn't cooperative; he wouldn't identify himself. He resisted the officers," Young said.
Neither the video footage nor eyewitness accounts of the events confirmed that Tabatabainejad encouraged resistance, and he repeatedly told the officers he was not fighting and would leave.
Tabatabainejad was walking with his backpack toward the door when he was approached by two UCPD officers, one of whom grabbed the student's arm. In response, Tabatabainejad yelled at the officers to "get off me." Following this demand, Tabatabainejad was stunned with a Taser.
UCPD and the UCLA administration would not comment on the specifics of the incident as it is still under investigation.
In a statement released Wednesday, Interim Chancellor Norman Abrams said investigators were reviewing the situation and the officers' actions.
"I can assure you that these reviews will be thorough, vigorous and fair," Abrams said.
The incident, which Zaragoza described as an example of "police brutality," left many students disturbed.
"I realize when looking at these kind of arrest tapes that they don't always show the full picture. ... But that six minutes that we can watch just seems like it's a ridiculous amount of force for someone being escorted because they forgot their BruinCard," said Ali Ghandour, a fourth-year anthropology student.
"It certainly makes you wonder if something as small as forgetting your BruinCard can eventually lead to getting Tased several times in front of the library," he added.
Edouard Tchertchian, a third-year mathematics student, said he was concerned that the student was not offered any other means of showing that he was a UCLA student.