Thursday, November 16, 2006

Shocking Street Theater in the UCLA Computer Lab

Video here.

Note: this is not safe for work or kids, people's language choices seem to veer sharply toward the objectionable when getting tasered.

Additional information:

LA Times
UPI
The Register (UK)
CBS 2, KTAL, Los Angeles

In summary, the rules of the computer lab are that to remain in the lab after 11pm, you have to show a university ID. Apparently, the checks of ID are random, and the 23 year-old student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, refused to show his ID to the Community Service Officer, who serves as a guard in the library. He also refused a request to leave if he didn't or wouldn't show his ID. At this point (11:30 p.m., apparently), officers of the University of California Police Department were called, and at some point after that the video begins. As the video begins, Mr. Tabatabainejad is loudly objecting to being touched by the officers. People at the scene reported that he went limp and tried to obstruct their carriage of him from the premesis, at that point (about 40 seconds into the video) he was tasered the first time.

From the screams, it sounds like he was tasered at least once more, and probably once more after that.

A few observations:

Mr. Tabatabainejad had several opportunities to do the right thing here.
The first was to just show his ID.
The second was to show his ID after talking smack to the CSO.
The third was to leave before the UCPD arrived.
The fourth was to respond in a calm and collected manner when the police arrived.
The fifth was to leave when the police asked him to do so.

This sequence of events does not seem to suggest the UCPD trying out a new toy, this suggests to me a 23 year-old having a bad day and choosing the wrong people upon which to vent his frustrations and acting out.

I never hear the UCPD officers swear or use anything other than a pretty even tone of voice. They're not picking a fight, they're handling a situation. Me personally, when someone starts shouting at the top of their lungs in a public place, I start checking the sightlines to the exits and inventorying improvisable (or real) weapons. Normal people don't scream. What's more, the age group at which severe psychosis begins is the 18-25 age group. People that age who are not obviously drunk and act like that I would assume to have either another chemical impariment or potentially mental illness. If you can't control yourself in a public place, it's the job of the police to control you.

What the police were looking for was evidence of compliance, and calling them "M-Fers" and yelling political comments about the (totally irrelevant, in this case) Patriot Act aren't evidence of compliance. Maybe he couldn't stand up within a minute of being Tasered as he was asked to do, but he could gather his wits and de-escalate the situation verbally. You'd think that being shocked to the ground would have some sobering effect, but this kid was way beyond that.

I love the concerned crowd gathered around the malefactor and taunting the police. In particular I love the wannabe pre-law demanding "badge numbers" and verbally assaulting the police. What part of the situation makes Mr. Remesnitsky (whom I presume to be the guy in the white shirt, and to whom I apologize if he is not) believe he is capable of controlling it, or even helping? Does he presume that Glocks would have been produced and Mr. Tabatabainejad executed had he not appeared? Rubbernecking is so rarely helpful.

As far as the "racial profiling" aspect of this goes, less than half of the UCLA population is white and somewhere between 30-40% are going to be Asian or South Asian. This would not seem to be an example of walking into the room and picking on the first brown face you see, if you're going to racially profile at UCLA you're going to be very, very busy. But of course, since Mr. Tabatabainejad is an Iranian-American, the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR) is right there to demand investigation of this "disturbing incident" as only an:
outside, independent probe will ensure that the civil rights aspects of this case are being taken seriously and will be addressed in an impartial manner.
Right. Now, I believe that this incident the result of a college student with authority issues picking the wrong time, place and manner to tangle with the UCPD, nothing more and nothing less. But I have to admit that I would not be at all surprised to find that this was an intentional bit of theater intended to provide pretext for protests of "racial profiling" at UCLA, and by police in general.

Your thoughts?

Edit to add:

Heh. I beat Michelle Malkin to this one. Hope the trackbacks are working...

4 comments:

Terror-Free said...

CAIR - 1, FREE SPEECH - 0
Islamonazi CAIR Intimidates Yet Another American Business In Dhimmitude

http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/videos/MS092506.php - MSNBC video

Free Patriotic Corner Banners: http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/cb/

Troy M. Stirman said...

This took place in the land of nuts and fruits- remember that. This is the state that produced the Watts Riots, Rodney King debacle, and which still allows OJ Simpson to roam neighborhoods- unchecked!

The police handled this situation remarkable well given the gallery of student protestors watching (with cameras clicking away no less)all this and complaining. None of them seems concerned about their security from the noisy, cry-baby student who couldn't produce his ID, but all seemed concerned that the police (i.e. Homeland Security Patrol) were going beyond the limits in handling this idiot.

Yes, the suspect definitely got tased twice- possibly three times listening to the scream sequence. He's lucky it's 2006. If it had been pre-911, he would have been struck with not one, but two night sticks by the two patrolmen who showed up on the scene.

UCLA- now there's a bastion of education whose product contains large doses of common sense...

-TMS

Anonymous said...

I was completely appalled to view the undignified manner in which UCLA UCPD treated student Tabatabainejad in the Powell Library Tuesday evening.

UCLA police asked Tabatabainejad to stand up while and after electrocuting him four and possibly seven times (it is a little more subjective to determine acoustically once he is moved into the stairway of the library) for five second durations as observed on the video tape (based upon his screams, the electric sound of the taser and audible reactions from the witnesses).

Officers allege that, when asked to stand, Tabatabainejad refused to comply. But, according to a Taser product description at http://www.safetyenforcement.com/stunguninfo.html, "[a shock of] over three seconds will usually completely disorient and drop an [individual] for at least several minutes and possibly for up to fifteen minutes."

It was a degrading act for officers to incapacitate this student and then ask him to stand - thus creating a reciprocal cause for their undignified behavior.

Watch the tape and you'll hear Tabatabainejad being electrocuted - again after 1 min. 11 sec. again, after 1 min. 21 sec. again, after 34 sec. again, after 15 sec. again, after 16 sec. again and finally after 10 sec. How, I ask you, could he possibly stand up?

Numerous students tried to passively intervene. You'll notice at the very end of the tape, another officer threaten a student in a white shirt with being tased if he did not leave the public area of the library.

I believe that the employment of electro-shock to gain compliance from a non-violent individual when being confronted by security is inhuman and inappropriate.

Below, please find an excerpt from a study on the use of electrical stun weapons by the British Bradford Non-Leathal Weapons Research Project (www.bradford.ac.uk/acad/nlw).

With great concern,

GMT
Birmingham, AL


Excerpt:
Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project (BNLWRP)
Centre for Conflict Resolution
Department of Peace Studies
University of Bradford, UK.
www.bradford.ac.uk/acad/nlw

Electrical stun weapons: alternative to lethal force or a compliance tool?
Nick Lewer and Neil Davison
January 2006

The rationale behind the deployment of ‘non-lethal’ or ‘less-lethal’ weapons, such as the Taser, is to provide police officers with an alternative to lethal force for dangerous and life-threatening situations they face....

A report from Amnesty International in 2004 found evidence that “…far from being used to avoid lethal force, many US police agencies are deploying Tasers as a routine force option to subdue non-compliant... individuals who do not pose a serious danger to themselves or others.” In other words, the Taser has suffered from mission creep. It is not merely employed against dangerous individuals where the alternative is lethal force, but also against... people passively resisting or simply arguing with the police. In an increasing number of cases it has become a compliance tool for police officers rather than a weapon used to prevent injury or death caused by use of other means.

What is it like to be incapacitated by a Taser weapon? ...Upon impact a 50,000-volt electric shock is discharged into the victim for a period of five seconds. Whilst the barbs remain attached this discharge can be repeated multiple times by pulling the trigger again (and again). The immediate effects are debilitating. The current causes involuntary muscle contraction and extreme pain. The victim completely loses control over their body and falls to the floor until the current stops. The whole experience is both painful and degrading. So much so that in 1997 Robin Cook, the then Foreign Secretary (UK), considered electro-shock weapons, including Tasers, amongst equipment “designed primarily for torture”....

Receiving a shock from a Taser is not without its health risks... there are concerns about the increased susceptibility of those with existing heart problems.... Canadian Police highlighted two other safety concerns in a recent report. The muscle spasms caused by the Taser can impair breathing, particularly if a person receives multiple shocks, and this may also contribute to a lowering of pH in the body, a potentially life-threatening chemical imbalance. Also the electric shock does not affect everyone equally. Those with smaller body size and lower weight are more susceptible to potential adverse effects.

Secondary injuries to the head and other parts of the body have occurred since the victim falls to the ground once shocked. Often this fall will be on a hard surface such as a road or pavement, a far cry from the controlled conditions under which some police officers have volunteered to experience a Taser shock (with two officers supporting them under each arm and a safety mat on the floor). The barbs can leave small cuts and burn marks on the skin but worse injuries can result if they hit sensitive areas of the body such as the eye, mouth, neck and groin.

Amnesty International has documented 103 deaths in the United States and Canada between June 2001 and March 2005 following the use of the Taser by the police. In 17 of these cases medical examiners cited the Taser either as a contributing factor or could not rule it out. In many cases the victim received multiple shocks from the Taser. Other factors such as... a condition called ‘excited delirium’ have commonly been cited as the primary cause of death.

The Home Office and UK police forces have engaged in an in depth review of Taser weapons and participated in some public debate with respect to their deployment plans. Their conclusions are that potential adverse health effects and possibilities of abuse are outweighed by their operational utility. But we would argue that the painful and degrading effects of the Taser, its susceptibility to misuse, and the associated health risks militate against a wider deployment on our streets and could, as the US experience has shown, result in the weapon becoming a compliance tool. Of course we must support the police so that they can carry out, on our behalf, often difficult and dangerous duties, but we are concerned that such a wider deployment of the Taser will further undermine the ethos of ‘policing by consent’ and increase a perception of armed officers ‘policing by compliance’.

Dr. Nick Lewer
Director, Centre for Conflict Resolution
Mr. Neil Davison
Project Co-ordinator
Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project
Centre for Conflict Resolution
Department of Peace Studies
University of Bradford, UK

Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project (BNLWRP), January 2006.

Darren Duvall said...

GMT,

I appreciate your concern.

The alternate method of gaining compliance generally involves using a PR-24 or ASP baton and one or more sharp blows to a pressure point, often the common peroneal nerve or the ulnar nerve in the forearm. A PR-24 can just as easily break the forearm. Mr. Tabatabainejad continued to escalate the situation to the point where the officers on the scene felt the need to gain control with physical means.

Neither the Taser nor the PR-24 is completely benign. But Tasers are rarely if ever fatal or permanently debilitating, though I imagine the kid's lawyers will see that differently.

Thanks for your comment.