Photo borrowed from LAIST.com
Thanks to the TUPOCC email discussion list for tipping me off to this story.
When I first wrote this post, I was extremely upset and angered, so I slept on it before publishing it. I still am enraged but it’s hard to know what the right response is this morning. The first draft of this post said that the UCLA students shouldn’t have stood by while a fellow student was being assaulted by the cops, but this morning that seems like a bad idea. As much as I would be thrilled to seeing students stand up in direct action to police brutality, I can’t help but believe that rushing the cops and taking away their tasers would probably lead to even more severe forms of violence (if for no other reason than the cops have guns and that the students might not stop at just taking away the tasers).
I of course think this incident should be investigated and these cops should be prosecuted for abuse of civil liberties, A&B, and official oppression. Of course if the DA in LA is anything like our old DA here in OKC, then the cops will instead wind up getting a promotion, but this is the time when students and the public should rise up and demand justice (and it looks like they are, in the stories I’ll link to below from the student newspaper).
So, with this said, I believe strongly that Tasers should be outlawed or at the very least strictly regulated by federal and state law to forbid their use except for rare cases where a suspect is actually violent or is stating a credible threat of violence (as in if a suspect had a knife in his hand and was charging at a cop). — BTW, more discussion on the potential and actual abuse of tasers can be found at ACLU.org.
I also believe that any cop that threatens to tase a person for asking for his badge number (one of the bystanders who asked for the badge number was threatened with being tased) should never be a cop again, and frankly should be in jail. This is a textbook case of police oppression.
Here’s some more coverage from the aftermath of this incident…
UCLA Police press release. I don’t care if this student violated policies about showing ID’s and what not, there is NO excuse for the use of the taser. The cops had the right to escort him from the building, and lawfully could arrest him (again, a stupid, stupid, thing to do, but that would be legal), but they had no right to use this level of excessive force. And it goes without saying that this student was stupid in the way he handled this, but it still doesn’t justify the cops torturing him with multiple tasings.
LA Times: UCLA student stunned by Taser plans suit — good for him. Maybe they’ll be justice after all.