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The Statesman


    UCLA Student Tasered by Police

    University of California Los-Angeles (UCLA) is currently facing controversy over a recent brawl between one of its students and the University of California Police Department (UCPD). On Nov. 14, 23-year-old Mostafa Tabatabainejad was shot with a Taser after he repeatedly failed to show student identification, a BruinCard, at Powell Library’s CLICC computer lab. Tabatabainejad was then asked to leave. When he failed to comply, the CSO contacted the campus police who took him into custody.

    Routine checks to verify student identification are conducted at Powell Library, a 24-hour campus library. UCLA’s Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams has said in a statement that this ‘policy posted in the library was enacted for the protection of [UCLA] students. Compliance is critical for the safety and well-being of everyone’

    According to the UCLA Police Department, these checks are performed by Community Service Officers (CSO) to ‘insure that all patrons using the library after 11:00 PM are authorized.’ According to Chief of Police Karl Ross, ‘CSOs number 123 and are mostly students.’

    According to UCLA’s student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, as the police escorted Tabatabainejad out of the library, one of them put a hand on him. Tabatabainejad reacted to this by repeatedly saying, ‘get off me.’ Upon this, a police officer tasered Tabatabainejad using the ‘drive stun’ method.

    According to a statement made by UCPD, ‘A Taser is used to momentarily 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.’

    According Chief of Police, Paul Young, the Taser ‘is an electrical shock … It causes pain. He said that drive stun method would not likely demobilize a person or cause residual pain after the shock was administered. Young also added that a Taser is less forceful than something like a baton.

    However, according to Peter Eliasberg, the Managing Attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, ‘it is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some benign thing that painlessly brings people under control. The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in death.’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.

    Tabatabainejad was captured by a student video camera saying ‘Here’s your Patriot Act, here’s your f—–g abuse of power.’ Tabatabainejad refused to stand up when he was asked to do so. He said that he was complying, but he had a medical condition. This is when the police first tasered him. The police then placed handcuffs on him.

    UCPD said that force was required when ‘Tabatabainejad encouraged library patrons to join his resistance.’ The police officers repeatedly tasered him thereafter. UCPD has yet to officially release the number of times that Tabatabainejad was tasered, but the number is at least more than four. All use of police forces require an administrative review, which is currently underway. UCLA Chancellor Abrams said that ‘I can assure you that these reviews will be thorough, vigorous and fair.’

    Of more two dozen students who witnessed the event, multiple students asked for police identification. One student, Mher who wishes to keep his last name secret, was threatened with the taser by the police when he asked for their identification. According to the Bruin, a fourth-year economics student, Laila Gordy, was threatened witha a Taser when she asked a police officer for his name and badge number. She said that ‘It’s a shock that something like this can happen at UCLA. It was unnecessary what they did.’

    The police officer who tasered Tabatabainejad was identified by The Los Angeles Times as Terrence Duren. Duren, who has served in the police force for 18 years, has a history of unnecessary force. He shot a homeless man, Willie Davis Frazier, at a campus study hall room three years ago. He was also recommended for dismissal in connection with an alleged assault on fraternity row.

    Although Duren didn’t comment directly on the Taser incident, he was quoted in the LA Times: ‘I patrol this area the same way I would want someone to patrol the neighborhoods where I live. People make allegations against cops all the time. Saying one thing and proving it are two different things.’

    Tabatabainejad’s attorney, Stephen Yagman, said that his client was shocked five times with the Taser, who feels that he was singled out for his Middle Eastern appearance. Although a U.S. citizen by birth, Tabatabainejad is of Iranian descent.

    The latest development in the case was provided by the UCPD, which said that ‘Tabatabainejad was subsequently arrested for resisting/obstructing a police officer, 148(A)(1) of the Penal Code. He was released with a citation and issued a court date. The entire incident is under investigation and a case will be presented to the City Attorney.’

    In a Nov. 17 press conference, Chief of Police Karl Ross said that ‘While I am confident of our ability to perform a fair and thorough investigation, I am also cognizant of the need for a transparent review. Therefore, I have recommended to Chancellor Abrams that he appoint an independent investigator to look into the incident.’

    At the same conference, Abrams introduced the independent investigator assigned for the case, Merrick Bobb. Abrams said that ‘Bobb is one of the nation’s leading authorities on police conduct. He served as a staff attorney for the Christopher Commission, which examined Los Angeles Police Department’s policies, and also has served as an independent monitor of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.’

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