Thursday, November 16, 2006

UCLA student repeatedly tazered for not producing ID while using the library

Mostafa Tabatabainejad was tazered by university police, after he failed to exit the university library quickly enough when he failed to produce the ID that is required of all students using the library after 11. He was tasered once when he didn't get out quickly enough, and then repeatedly after that for failing to stand up after being tazered the first time. Other students who asked the police for their names and badge numbers where threatened with tazering.

The whole incident is was caught on camera phone, and accompanies this article.

Update: the video from youtube

Update again: the link was from Bitch, the youtube link from a commenter at Bitch. Welcome Pharyngula readers.


Anonymous said...

This entire event is horrendous! My first reaction is to think that every single one of those men should be fired, that that poor student is a martyr. But then I look at all those other students, standing around, protesting, but unwilling to do anything at all! At the end, one student asking for a badge number gets threatened with tasering, then he walks away! He should have asked the man if he wanted to try and taser every single person there!

Torture + Complicity = Silence

Mrs. Coulter said...

Horrifying. Yelling at the officers was probably unwise, yet his unwise behavior is no excuse for the abuse he received.

Syagru1s: I heard other students repeatedly ask the officers for their badges throughout the video.

I kept expecting them to riot or something though, since the crowd was so restive and obviously upset about what was happening. Yet it is much easier to say what someone should have done when it was not your own choice to make.

Anonymous said...

Totally unbelievable. Without the video I'd be skeptical if someone told me this happened. With the video, I'm pissed off.

I can't imagine myself not getting involved somehow, but I think it was wise of the other kids to back off. Their choice prevented the situation from escalating.

I trust the officers will get their come uppance soon. I relish reading that in the news. Time to set a google alert :)

Anonymous said...

lol.. how many times did the officers tell this guy to stand up... he should be tazed a few more times for being dumb and trying to cause more trouble than his life is worth..

he shoulda just left the library when he was asked to leave.. he doesn't have an ID.. then get lost.. he made everyone lose their concentration... selfish

Anonymous said...

This is a fairly simple matter. Most of you are looking at this from an emotional perspective. From the video, the suspect can be seen jumping about and the sound of the tazer and his screams can be heard. Try watching it again without the sound. There is a marked difference. The fact that you can hear his screams makes you feel that he is being abused or tortured. It doesn't make it so. The added concern and emotional outcries from onlookers just adds to this feeling. No one wants to see or hear another person suffering in what appears to be pain.

If you have ever been on the receiving end of a tazer, you would know that it does not hurt in the manner in which this student was expressing. It is obvious that he was emotionally charged prior to being tazed. Just listen to him cry-out when one of the officers grabbed his arm.

Here's something else to consider. If the officers were so out-of-line in the process of effecting this arrest, why would they be so bold as to do it in front of countless witnesses? It doesn't logically follow. If there was any real problem here, it would have to be within the policies set forth by the UC system and its' police department. But really, short of dragging him out of the building what would have been a better way to handle it?

He was asked to leave, but he refused.

Should they have just ignored him? No. That sends the wrong message to others. The rules are in place for a reason. If they are not enforced, they are pointless.

Should they have peppered sprayed him? No. There were too many bystanders in close proximity. The spray would have affected them as well.

Should they have used their batons? No. He was already in handcuffs and was only refusing to stand up and walk.

Should they have used deadly force? No. Their lives nor anyone elses lives were threatened.

A tazer is used to gain cooperation from a suspect. It was an appropriate tool to use in this case. The way that it was applied may or may not be within departmental policy. That remains to be seen.

The simple truth to this incident is, the student screwed up. He decided to take a stand when he was likely in the wrong, hoping that the police would back down. Right or wrong, he paid the price. The smart thing would have been to do as the officer told him and leave the building. He could have gotten his ID and returned to the library. Instead, he went to jail. The student made a bad choice.

Anonymous said...

First of all, tazers hurt like a bitch. Have you ever been struck with one? Second, Tazers can cause death especially with repeated use and if the person has a prior medical condition.

Third....I'm not wuite sure why some of you are missing this. He probably COULDN'T stand up. So to taze him again and again and tell him to stand up is setting the request up to be iherently denied. He probably couldn't.

Those "shocked" voices can SEE whats happening, they reflect auditorily whats happening visually. So if you say turn off the sound its probably a convenient way for you to avoid whats really happening.

And Yes, police officers would. In any situation police officers are human, and even the best of them get tunnel vision. These have clearly made a bad decision and then continue on with it. They clearly are not thinking clearly if they commanding someone who has been repeatedly tazed to stand up instead of carrying them out of there.

As an EMT, when they won't stand or walk and they have to go, we carry, and so do the cops along with us. So yes they SHOULD have dragged him out of there.

The man is also not struggling or resisting so the repeated tazes for not standing are completely out of line. In fact, any tazes was probably inappropriate, and after one from the circumstances on this video its dragging time. I did not hear him to refuse to leave at all on the video. In fact we hear the scream, and then him repeatedly saying he would leave.

Right or wrong he paid the price? Do you want to pay the price for something wrong on justice's part. I doubt it. As far as the rules are in place for a reason, the punishment must fit the crime. This clearly doesn't and was overdone. Rules for rules sake become injustices in and of themselves. The example the police just set for all of these students by "so" enforcing the rules to set an example, is that they are dangerous entities that do not believe in or manifest justice, in fact will abuse their power to incur injustice and are not to be trusted. Not a wise decision compared to the rule broken.

The police exist from specific reasons and are imbued with power for that reason. They are not all powerful or omniscient and should not be imbued with such correlating social or physical power.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Being a Law Enforcement officer myself, it looks to me as if the situation was handled with as much due care as could be expected on a college campus. You must realize what these officers deal with on a day to day basis

I have been tazed and it does not hurt the way it was being portraied. After being tazed you can easily get up and continue with what you were doing. Most instance it takes several tases for a person to become compliant. and for the person who posted last there is no scientific research showing that tasers result in death.....there are several instances but there are many more instances of people dieing because of being handcuffed

Anonymous said...

This crybaby got exactly what he deserved. The college kids of today are a bunch of whiney wusses. Yes the cops could have picked him up... but why should they?? Have some common respect and do what they've asked you to do in the first place. No wonder other Countries hate us. Were bringing up a bunch of disrespectful crybabies.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

As usual video's only capture so much, so here is the story if anyone cares; and before making comments try and find out the whole story, because anyone can defend or condem the cops and student, without knowing the reason behind the attack your post are of no use.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I've started deleted some of the more abusive comments. For now I'm only deleting those who directly insult other commenters. I want to leave up stuff like "the crybaby got what he deserved" becuase it is worth seeing how different people react to this video, even if they are clearly deranged.

Anonymous said...

Once an officer makes an arrest the suspect is under the officers care and supervision. There are a number of things that can be done to make the suspect cooperate without a tazer. One in to use pressure points. I think I saw at least three to four officers during this time. All that needs to be done is drag the suspect out. Thats what they had to do anyway at the end of the video. Anytime you use a tazer on a suspect it takes quite awhile for the person to get their barrings and/or walk without assistance. This is just a prime example of an officer(s) losing control of the situation. Its very common because without proper education and training an officer can create a situation they can't control.

Anonymous said...


What these police officers are doing is attempted murder- they should be charged as soon as the DA's office opens Monday morning-

What kind of person sees this video and thinks these police officers are acting professionally and responsibly? If it was YOUR daughter or YOUR son being tazed over and over maybe you would have a different view. WHY DID THESE "officers" keep yelling OVER AND OVER to stand up?

Did they think the student hadn't heard them?

So you have two big, bad, burly officers who are SO SCARED of a skinny 21 year old college student that they had to taze him over and over.

If you got tazed, you as a person have no idea what your reaction would be (and, in reference to the person who claims to being tazed over and over in another post, you are truly a man of steel, but most people aren't built like that). But I know what my reaction would be- anger. And if I had been one of those students standing behind those horrible, unprofessional campus rent a cops, they would have gotten a kick in the head, or a laptop thrown at them from behind.

Anonymous said...

Cadets fresh from the GESTAPO ACADEMY, I assume. Must be the same folks who ran Abu Ghraib. Nicely done.

Anonymous said...

"According to a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001, a charge of three to five seconds can result in immobilization for five to 15 minutes, which would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so."

Anonymous said...

First off the dude got what was coming to his dumb ass!!! You don't disobey an officer of the law like that, they tell you to do something you do it. I think a lot of the post on this site are from either friends or students the kid was a dumb ass, If I was one of the police there I probably would have done a lot more to the kid I would have pepper sprayed the shit out of him that would have got the crowd to shut the hell up everyone would have gone away… In closing the kid got what he deserved and the police got the job done so STFU about it.

Anonymous said...

So you ask a guy to stand up otherwise you zap him again? Well I guess if waterboarding is not considered abusive then this obviously isn't either.

Anonymous said...

I would assume that the officers simply didn't have enough training or knowledge to realize that the suspect couldn't stand up. And it's reasonable to assume that because he had been deliberately disobeying, he still was. I don't think it's fair of people who write here to insult them as "rent a cops." They're people who needed a job with decent pay, and got one, and ended up having to deal with crazy people and events they weren't really prepared to deal with perfectly. It happens, and it's not as if the kid were walking around innocently doing nothing.

It's likely that this kid is suffering the onset of mental illness, or has an anger management problem. People with mental illness and conduct problems are sharing all sorts of public places and making it difficult for us all the time. We can't always be prepared to respond in the best and most compassionate, caring way. Yes, I'd be angry in the same situation had it escalated to that level. But it sounds like the student chose to escalate the situation, and it is the responsibility of security to remove him and make it stop.

You should also realize that working in campus security is a form of oppression as well, and that we live in a system that bribes us just to grab onto whatever little bit we can get, because it's impossible (sorry) to topple the system. (I guess I am saying that we all internalize oppression, or some bs.) It amazes me that radical liberal students still can't quite see that the "underdog" here is an employee rather than a student presumably working toward a higher-level profession. I guess it's easier to just consider skin color. And it's certainly not irrelevant, but I don't think it's directly pertinent to this situation because I would expect a white student to be treated similarly but perhaps not broadcast on the internet.

Matt BK said...

This video pissed me off (I watchd it Thursday). What bothers me more is the response I got for bringing it up on my forum here (University of North Dakota):

"if a mob of students who outnumbered you about 60+ to 3 were getting in my face and interfering with me trying to keep the peace, I wouldn't have my taser out, I would have my gun out. "

There is a difference between enforcing the rules and being a dick; I'd say these guys were being pretty big dicks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...


"What these police officers are doing is attempted murder- they should be charged as soon as the DA's office opens Monday morning-"
Ignorant. There is simply no scientific evidence to prove that 3 second charges of a tazer can kill a person. Tazers are made for the specific purpose of forcing a rebellious person to comply. That is what they were being used for here.

"What kind of person sees this video and thinks these police officers are acting professionally and responsibly?"
I, for one. He specifically refused to leave after the officers asked him to. As he was being escorted out, he acted in an obnoxious and vehement manner, attempting to incite other students to join in his resistance. He uses such radical liberal phrases as "Here's your Patriot Act!" By attemptin to incite others, he is willingly opposing police orders, otherwise known as a felony.

"WHY DID THESE "officers" keep yelling OVER AND OVER to stand up?"
Because he was refusing to stand up. He was willingly acting in rebellion to police orders while attempting to incite others against the police.

"Did they think the student hadn't heard them?"
No. They were warning him.

"So you have two big, bad, burly officers who are SO SCARED of a skinny 21 year old college student that they had to taze him over and over."
If that selfish student thinks he's being the social "bada**" by refusing to comply to police orders
of completely reasonable authority, he deserves to be tazered and subdued.

"If you got tazed, you as a person have no idea what your reaction would be (and, in reference to the person who claims to being tazed over and over in another post, you are truly a man of steel, but most people aren't built like that). But I know what my reaction would be- anger. And if I had been one of those students standing behind those horrible, unprofessional campus rent a cops, they would have gotten a kick in the head, or a laptop thrown at them from behind."
Yeah...that makes so much sense. Make outrageous claims that this "police brutality" is "attempted murder," and then follow up by threatening more violence from yourself.

Anonymous said...

He should have listened. I hope he gets locked up for a few days.

Anonymous said...

It's scary how students today refuse to question authority. How did that happen?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what people would be screaming if this guy was, say a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his body. Let's face it, it's been done before in places where innocent people gather. Soft targets they call them. And wasn't a university in Iraq just recently the target of kidnappers? Hmmmm. So, if the police weren't checking IDs and weren't challenging people who refuse to produce them and weren't taking the beligerent refusal as a serious threat and if something nasty happened.... well, you can just bet these same officers would be hung out to dry for not doing everything they could to avert a problem.

And the race thing? Let's also face the fact that it was young Arab guys who flew planes into buildings. In this day and age it's guys named Muhammed with swarthy skin who look the most suspicious - especially when they challenge a routine ID check and scream obscenities about the Patriot Act. And those students boldly demanding to see police ID while all this is taking place? Give me a break! "Everyone let go of the suspect and pull out your badges so all the students can write down your name and number. K?" T

he kid was a real idiot or a mental case. Unfortunately, the police will likely err on the side of keeping the masses safe from idiots, mental cases, and real terrorists. Did they use excessive force? Perhaps. Lethal force? No. The person who cause the heat of the moment should have been ready to take the heat. He should also get an Oscar for his performance.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Wow, I always thought racial profiling was just for random searches. I never thought you could extend the principle to delivering huge electic shocks before. "I know he's handcuffed and on the ground, but I had to taser him. His name is Mustafa!"

Congratulations you're the biggest racist to ever comment at my humble blog!

Anonymous said...

Ahh...yes. The notorious race card gets played by the blog author because he *disagrees* with the previous post which is not in lock-step with his political ideology. Freedom of speech sucks when it has to work both ways, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

"Congratulations you're the biggest racist to ever comment at my humble blog!"

I doubt that - I am African-American and am the widow of an Hispanic man. We have children born of us and we also adopted two Chinese girls. My current boyfriend is of Middle Eastern descent. The only color we don't have in our rainbow is white. Get over yourself and try blowing another horn.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Regardless of your pedigree, your suggestion that race play a role in who to taser, is racist. In general, no one gets a pass from racism because of their own race.

I'm closing the comments for this post. The comments are simply getting to depressing. The sight of a helpless person being tasered apparently brings out an unusually bizarre species of troll. People say things they can't possibly mean, like the idea that Tabatabainejad was the real person being selfish because he broke other people's concentration in the library. This is one I've seen twice now--people getting mad at Tabatabainejad for yelling in the library, as if that were a bigger crime than tasering a helpless person.

Look, no one can believe the crazy shit they say to justify the police actions here. So after I post this comment, I'm shutting down the whole discussion. If you want to be butt-crazy, do it on your own blog.