UCLAPD Acted Harshly
Police officers repeatedly shocked a UCLA student with a Taser after he purportedly refused to leave a campus library computer lab. The student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, 23, was using the Powell Library computer lab at 11:30 p.m. and refused to show identification to a campus security officer.
UCLA policy, for public safety reasons, requires that students using library amenities show a valid student ID after 11 p.m. Eyewitnesses and a video shot from a camera phone confirm that Tabatabainejad and the police struggled for a few minutes, but that the student was Tasered multiple times after he had declared that he would leave the library.
Tabatabainejad apparently did not provide campus police with a student ID and did not leave the library after a campus police officer asked. The officer left and returned with more campus police who then proceeded to ask the student to leave ‘multiple times,’ according to a statement by the UC Police Department.
‘He continued to refuse,’ said an official with the UCPD. ‘As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building.’
‘Tabatabainejad encouraged library patrons to join his resistance,’ police said. ‘The officers deemed it necessary to use the Taser.’
The Taser was set in ‘drive stun’ mode, which immobilizes the local area of the body where it hits, not the entire body.
Some witnesses said that Tabatabainejad had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack when extra campus police arrived. When an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, according to witnesses, Tabatabainejad told the officer to let go, yelling ‘Get off me!’ several times.
A lot has been said about whether or not the police acted appropriately in this case. While I do not want to judge these things precipitately, I believe that much is working against UCPD in this case, and for good reason.
In the video, for example, police officers repeatedly order Tabatabainejad to stand up. It is also clear that every time the student is ready to get up and shouts that he will leave, the officer Tasers him again.
Tabatabainejad, unfortunately, was not helping his case by shouting things like, ‘Am I the only martyr?’ and condemning the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act while cursing at officers. Some of the eyewitnesses, moreover, acted a bit foolishly by trying to come between the student and police.
Following the incident, it was confirmed that Terrence Duren, the UCLA police officer who Tasered the student, had also shot a homeless man at a campus study hall room three years ago and was connected with an alleged assault on Fraternity Row. The officer has served with the UCPD for 18 years.
It is safe to say that UCLA police demonstrated tremendous incompetence when dealing with the Iranian student. Tasering a student and then threatening to Taser more students who scream ‘leave him alone’ seems a bit much. Duren should have been released from duty long ago.
Despite the police department’s ineptitude in dealing with the student, Tabatabainejad should not have cursed at the police and should have simply left the library when he could not provide valid ID.
Asking for ID has little to do with race. This is a normal procedure at UCLA because