Saturday, November 18, 2006


The TV news is full of cellphone video images of police tasering a student at the University of California library at Los Angeles. He had refused to show a guard his student id, arguing that he had been "profiled" and that the white students at the same table should be asked to show their ids also. The guard asked him to leave. He completed his work and was on his way out when a squad of campus police returned and grabbed him. He was tasered five times.

Although he lay paralysed on the floor, the police kept commanding him to stand up. When he failed to do this, they tasered him again and again.

According to witnesses and the video, he was even tasered AFTER he was handcuffed, when he could not have presented a threat to anyone.

For his violations of the campus rules (not laws, just rules) the student has received a citation. A traffic ticket. The University will probably be receiving a 20 million dollar lawsuit.

Although the chancellor has ordered a probe, the tasering policemen are still on active duty and have not been assigned to desk duty pending the investigation.

One of the policemen - still not yet relieved of duty - threatened to taser a student who asked for his badge number. That's a crime.

Tasers used to be called "non-lethal". Because 148 people have now been killed by them, they are being re-labelled "less-lethal". Just like guns, tasers can wound and they can kill.

Tasers cause heart attacks. Only time will tell whether long-term damage was done to the student. He did tell the policemen he was on medication. They zapped him anyway.

Police who punish detainees until they cooperate commit judge-and-jury policing. In this case, since he was already on his way out of the building, they appear to have been punishing him for not previously cooperating with the guard.

A day later, police tasered a suspect twice in El Monte, California, the second time to get him to roll over so they could cuff him. Here's the video. It was easier than rolling him over by hand.

And earlier in the week, video appeared on YouTube of two other Los Angeles area police arrests which were unnecessarily brutal. In one, a man who had been restrained was punched repeatedly. In another video, a man who had been cuffed and placed in a police car was sprayed with pepper spray.

"Failure to obey the command of a police officer" is now cause for tasering and possible death.

On the other hand, recording instances of police brutality has become a new urban sport. Just like hunting wildlife with the camera, only more rewarding.

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YouTube - other videos of the incident.

Declan McCullagh's fine article (many links).

Forbes Home Page - For The World's Business Leaders - "see how many students had cellphones out..." (The last place you'd expect to see this incident mentioned!)


Blogger Dan McIntyre said...

UCLA policy ok's using tasers on demonstrators who have gone passive:

Since tasers can be fatal, this leaves UCLA very open to a lawsuit. It is first hand evidence. Would they follow the same logic and use guns, which can also be used either to wound or kill, on demonstrators?

8:49 PM, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Dan McIntyre said...

It turns out that the police officer who fired the taser has a trigger-happy history:

He shot a homeless man who was hanging out in the mens room. The man sued. He put a frat boy in a choke hold with his nightstick. For this he was suspended for three months.

This man was a walking liability waiting to happen. Knowing his problems with violence, management kept him on.

Hello, lawsuits.

11:00 AM, November 21, 2006  

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