Saturday, November 18, 2006

UCLA Police Tasered Student For Mouthing Off


Police said they shocked Tabatabainejad after he urged others to join his resistance and a crowd began to gather. Footage from another student's camera phone showed Tabatabainejad screaming on the floor of the computer lab.
Since the tasered student was Iranian-American, the interaction which led up to the UCLA police tasering him multiple times for not obeying orders very likely felt like another instance of post 9/11 harrassment based on what he can be heard saying on the video. This would be especially true if the initial request for student id wasn't made of everyone in the UCLA library, only to those who didn't look like they belonged.

If someone has been unfairly harrassed that person might not take orders with grace and understanding when the police arrive. If the police failed to understand that there could be valid reasons for student's reaction, the problem is theirs.

Frankly, after watching the video, the police who were dealing with him and the other students looked like they had very little skill at diffusing a tense situation without proving their power. They seemed to have even less skill at understanding how their behavior looked to the students. Rather than responding calmly to all of the students reactions and working to de-escalate the situation, one student was tasered multiple times and at least one other student was threatened with tasering.

If the police had to use a taser in this situation, the problem was caused by their behavior not the student's.

Likely, the interaction began with a police officer giving a direct order (based on the call which sent them to the library) which reduced the officer's options substantially. Dealing with mouthy or beligerent people might not be fun, but responding with violence (and tasering is a form of violence) is NOT an appropriate use of force.

One or more of the responding police officers could have changed the dynamic completely by beginning the interaction by asking the student for his perspective and waiting to respond, and waiting to give any orders, until the student explained why he hadn't left when initially told to do so.

Then after the first tasering, the police made another mistake by giving orders to the student to stand up when they couldn't know whether he was able to stand after being tasered and restrained. The student was punished with additional shocks for making the police look powerless rather than because the student was a danger to anyone.

Another police officer compounded the problem by threatening to taser one of the student witnesses. It was the police, by their treatment of a student and the student witnesses, who created the potentially dangerous situation.

They gave their power away by using their power prematurely.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:23 PM   0 comments links to this post


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