Sunday, January 21, 2007

UCLA Student Tasered by Police in Library

The University of California is being sued by UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad who was tasered when he refused to leave UCLA's Powell library (see video above).

On November 14, 2006 Mr.
Tabatabainejad (hereafter Mr. T) was asked for his ID by a community service officer (CSO), the CSO's are UCLA's unarmed campus security service. He was asked for his ID because only students UCLA are allowed to stay after hours at the Powell library. Mr. T refused to show ID and refused to leave. The CSO called the campus police, they arrived and asked Mr. T to leave and he refused. They then cuffed him and he went prone on the floor. So the police used a Taser to get him moving. He's now suing over what happened that night.

Tabatabainejad is suing the officers at the scene, as well as Chief of Police Karl Ross, for battery, excessive force and negligence. He is also suing UCPD and the university for violating his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Hoffman, of the law firm Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman LLP.

Hoffman said the case does not make any claim of racial profiling.

According to the complaint, Tabatabainejad has bipolar disorder, and so Hoffman said the officer's treatment of the student constitutes discrimination under the ADA.

"In this particular case, the officers were informed," Hoffman said, explaining that Officer Terrence Duren, who used the Taser on Tabatabainejad, was told that Tabatabainejad had bipolar disorder and responded by asking what that had to do with standing up.

The case also alleges that the officers' use of the Taser was [contrary to the UCLA police department's policy on the use of force, which helps establish a breach of hte standard of care by the police].

UCPD's Taser policy states that officers can use a Taser to subdue a person who is "violent or physically resisting ... (or) potentially violent and physically resisting." The policy also does not prohibit the use of a Taser against a suspect who has already been handcuffed. |Daily Bruin|
The complaint can be found here I think he has a pretty good case that this is excessive use of force.

I think Tasers should never be used on handcuffed individuals, or only in the most extreme of circumstances. Tasers regularly kill people, like the recent case of an 18-year-old man, Andrew Athetis, in Scottsdale with no criminal record who died after being tased.

Scottsdale-based Taser International faces about 50 lawsuits alleging wrongful death or personal injury. About 20 similar lawsuits have been dismissed.

A March Amnesty International report found many Taser deaths in the previous year had happened when victims suffered at least three Taser shocks, sometimes for extended periods of time. |First Coast News|

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