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UCLA Library Taser Incident:

A bunch of people have e-mailed me asking that I post about the UCLA library tasering incident. A few have gone so far as to more or less demand that I post about it.

If I had special factual or legal knowledge related to the subject, I'd have been happy to blog about it, whether or not it involved UCLA. (See, for instance, my posts criticizing a UCLA dorm speech code, a UCLA administration Web site that I thought violated the Establishment Clause, and proposed UCLA general speech code.) Here, though, I lack any such special knowledge, nor do I have the time to acquire it, especially given that this is the sort of fact-dependent incident about which one needs to know a good deal to know even a little.

It's also the sort of blogging topic that risks consuming most of my spare time if I am indeed to venture serious opinions, given that I'd then be called on to respond to all the criticisms of my opinions, criticisms that may well be quite plausible given that my opinions are unlikely to be well-informed. (There is a video, but for obvious reasons it leaves many questions unanswered.) My tentative and highly unexpert thinking -- as opposed to a serious opinion -- is that at least some of the police officers' actions were likely unjustified, but what benefit is such tentative and highly unexpert thinking to my readers? Perhaps the outside investigation of the incident will reveal more, but for now I find I have very little to add to the inquiry.

As I do find things I think I might add to the discussion, I probably will post them, though they're likely to be quite tangential to the core "what happened here and what is to be done about it" questions that others are rightly focused on. For now, just so that there's something substantively helpful in the post, let me pass along the UCLA Police Department's Taser Policy, which (apparently unlike some other departments' policies) allows the use of tasers as "pain compliance techniques" in some situations. I can't speak in any helpful detail to what pain compliance techniques (as opposed to techniques aimed at more direct officer self-defense, rather than aimed at mere compliance) should be allowed: My tentative sense is that some are invariably allowed, and should be allowed, since even simply forcibly handcuffing a suspect usually relies on the threat of pain as a means of ensuring compliance, but that doesn't tell us whether tasering should be among such techniques, at least outside unusual cases. But I thought that at least passing along the policy might help produce informed opinions from readers who are more knowledgeable than I am about police enforcement matters.

JoeHall (www):
Well, do note that the taser policy the released has some implications. For example, they say subjects should not be tasered in either prong or drive-stun mode when handcuffed. The student was tasered five times, four of which were with the handcuffs on.
11.20.2006 3:24pm
Archon (mail):
JoeHall -

Let's be truthful here - the policy doesn't prohibit tasering subjects in handcuffs, it merely says special consideration should be used before using a taser when a subject is restrained.
11.20.2006 3:31pm
te:
Archon

Right on. What is the point of giving cops (or rent a cops) all these cool toys if we don't let them use them?
11.20.2006 3:34pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
"Archon," indeed.
11.20.2006 3:42pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I don't see how correcting someone on what the policy says should warrant such a sarcastic response... he wasn't even picking a side in this little argument.
11.20.2006 3:43pm
whit:
the one big problem i have with this policy is the juvenile thing.

imo, and i say this as a use of force instructor/firearms instructor, it is 100% wrong to have this policy take into consideration whether or not the subject is a juvenile.

that is (and should be) 100% irrelevant as to whether taser is or isn't applied

LAPD has had similar juvenile recommendations in other use of force (non-taser) before as well, and there are a host of reasons why it is problematic to take into account whether or not somebody is under the age of 18

that was the one part of the policy that jumped out at me as just terribly stupid.
11.20.2006 3:52pm
Archon (mail):
I have watched the video on YouTube, read many conflicting reports about the incident, and even spoke with a student who witnessed part of the incident at the library and I really don't see a problem with what happened.

From what I can put together the student was in the library after hours without ID. In order to be lawfully in the library after a certain time a student must be able to produce ID. A University library is allowed to lawfully restrict access by employing reasonable rules and regulations. I think it is pretty reasonable to limit library access to students with ID after 11pm.

The student apparently wanted to protest this policy and chose to do so by violating it. When asked for ID he refused to produced it and refused to leave the library. At that time he probably was considered to be tresspassing under applicable state law. The student cop called the real cops who showed up to arrest him for violating that law. But, when the real cops showed up he then decided he should leave because he didn't want to be arrested. He got up from his seat, ignored the officer's orders to stop, and attempted to leave the library. Because he had already committed a crime (and their was probable cause he did), the police had every right to arrest and detain him. I guess your average UCLA student isn't educated enough to know that you can't break the law and then make everything OK by simply leaving (it's as silly as saying "sorry for robbing your bank - her is the cash back and we will call it even.")

It appears that the police tasered him multiple times because he was being insubordinate while actively and passively resisting arrest. He refused to stand and walk while in custody (I have been told by my criminal defense attorney friends in CA that the courts have found it lawful to use pain compliance techniques to force a detainee to walk while in custody and that officers, under normal circumstances, are under no obligation to carry them around like other jurisdiction do.)

Also, it appeared on the video, that the student called for the crowd of students to assist him resist arrest. Now I've got no problem with saying a person has a 1st amendment right to verbally protest an arrest and tell a cop to fuck off. But, when you call for immenent lawless action that is quite a different story. The growing crowd appeeared restless and students began aggressively protesting their fellow student's arrest. The possibility that the situation could have escalated had the arrested student continued his calls was pretty high. I think under the circumstances the officers were quite justified.

With all that said, I don't know why they simply didn't hog tie him and carry him out to the paddy wagon while letting him yell and scream. That's what the cops do around here and it works pretty well.
11.20.2006 3:53pm
whit:
joehall, and archon...

every cop knows that one of the most important things in reading policy (use of force or otherwise) is knowing the 'shoulds/shouldn'ts VERSUS the Shall/shall-nots"

there is a big difference.

i think it can get glossed over if u are not used to reading policies and procedures of PD's, but there are few more critical one word distinctions than the difference between "shouldn't" and shall not.

shouldn't is always qualified, and shall not isn't

archon's point is spot on.
11.20.2006 3:55pm
whit:
archon, some good analysis

i can tell you one reason why they may not have decided to hog-tie (double restrain in politically correct parlance) is because most officers don't carry the hogtying (we call them hobbles) equipment on their person. in some dept's, the individual officers have them, in others only the supervisors.

iow, i doubt they had the equipment on their person, to be used in the library, but maybe back in their cars.

doublerestraining does create a host of issues. in many agencies, a double restrained subject must be closely monitored (mostly concerns about positional asphyxia). i have no idea what UCLA's policies are regarding double restraints, but from a pure practicality angle, they probably did not have the equipment on them.
11.20.2006 3:59pm
Archon (mail):
Another point that a collegue of mine just made is that some of the new "pain compliance techniques" are the result fo workman's compensation claims and disability issues that have come about in the last decade as a result of out of shape cops being forced to carry prisoners who refuse to walk while in custody. The insurance companies and police unions are apparently tired of dealing with injured officers who have to dead lift and walk with 200 lb prisoners. The guys in the Iron Man competitions have trouble with that, I can't imagine how physically challenging it is to a bunch of donut eating campus clowns.

So, PD came up with new compliance techniques that are designed to "encourage" prisoners who are mobile to walk in custody. I guess some of these are now being tested in court.
11.20.2006 4:04pm
anonVCfan:
If I was trying to study for a midterm and someone else was making that much noise, I might have tasered him myself.
11.20.2006 4:08pm
fishbane (mail):
One problem with the analysis, I think, is that "pain compliance" techniques can lead to a double bind. One of the features of the Taser and other electric cattle prod devices, as I understand it, is that it temporarily disables a person. From Wikipedia (yes, I know):

Earlier models of Taser needed the dart-like electrodes to embed in the skin and superficial muscle tissues layers; newer versions of the projectiles use a shaped pulse / arc of electricity which disrupt nerve and muscle function without needing the metal prongs on the projectile to penetrate the skin.


Doesn't seem rather counterproductive to "disrupt nerve and muscle function" while screaming at someone to stand up? At what point is a cop administering punishment (manifestly not their job) rather than enforcing compliance?
11.20.2006 4:15pm
whit:
a contact tase will not disable you, for more than the brief period of time the tase is applied

they asked (demanded) NUMEROUS times for the guy to stand up and he refused to do so.

he got tased.

they asked him again...

rinse, lather, repeat
11.20.2006 4:17pm
cfw (mail):
I note that joe student was not saying I cannot move, or I have cramps, or give me a minute, or I surrender, etc. So the idea that if the police had left him alone, he would have regained his senses and left cooperatively seems speculative at best.

The officers did not have backup and were significantly outnumbered for a pretty good while. Hence they had some reason for wanting to move things along.

Injury by handcuffs/man-handling to joe student, and suit by joe student, seems like a large risk associated with saying no use of taser in this scenario.

I like the idea of adjusting the taser - say down to 50-100 volts when joe student is on the ground, cuffed, calling for revolt, sort of passively refusing to cooperate.
11.20.2006 4:22pm
te:
Chapman

Why don't you get another hobby instead of following me around and misinterpreting my post so you can straddle your high horse and offer corrections.

There was nothing sarcastic in my post at all.

The punk disobeyed reasonable police orders - he's lucky all he got was tased.
11.20.2006 4:23pm
Hattio (mail):
So,
I have heard a lot of people claim that a contact Tase will not disable. I have yet to see that cited to anywhere. It seems if the only difference between the "drive stun" contact Tase and the "shooting" a person with a taser is whether the little probes shoot out or whether they stay in the gun, this guy would have been immobilized.
11.20.2006 4:27pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I guess your average UCLA student isn't educated enough to know that you can't break the law and then make everything OK by simply leaving

I thought that's exactly what you can do with trespassing -- that is, in certain circumstances it simply isn't trespassing until you don't leave when asked to do so. (Which is why I question the content of signs that say "No trespassing" without also saying that entry on this particular property is prohibited and would thereby be trespassing.)
11.20.2006 4:28pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"Following you around?" mmmm kay.
11.20.2006 4:30pm
Archon (mail):
I have to admit the first time I saw the video I thought it looked like a border line excessive use case. But, then I spoke to a friend who is a supervisor at the local PD.

He said, after watching the video, that if it was clearer he would use it for training purposes as a model of how you handle a crowds and a non-compliant prisoner. He said they did exactly what psychologists have found works well when shouting orders. You repeatedly and loudly shout them regardless of when you are administering a "tase" and don't cease until the subject becomes compliant. He said the last thing you want to do is stop shouting orders while administering "tases" as then it tends to develop into a cycle then because the subject will unknowingly have time to reset his mind while the tase is being administered.

He further stated that modern tasers don't incapacitate people for much longer then the actual shock. Older models would stun the person for 1-2 minutes but newer models use less power. Presumably these cops had the newer model and the student was capable of standing 1-2 seconds after the shock was administered.

It is also worth noting that it appeared that at least one of the tases was administered when he began calling for the crowd to assist him in resisting arrest.

All in all, I don't think one tase to get him into custody and then four to make him comply with police orders is excessive considering the circumstances.
11.20.2006 4:33pm
te:
Chapman - thanks for proving my point.
11.20.2006 4:33pm
Archon (mail):
To Chesler:

I'm not familiar with the CA tresspassing statute, but I might have a paralegal look it up because now I am curious.

In my experience most tresspassing statutes give you one chance, not multiple chances, to leave when lawfully ordered. It appears from media accounts that the student community officer doing the ID sweep told the student he has to leave when he failed to produce ID. The student had his chance to leave when asked to by the community officer and he chose not to. At that point he was most likely in violation of the statute. Police arriving to the call were aware of this and were certainly under no obligation to ask him to leave again (but to be fair they were also under no obligation to take him directly into custody.)
11.20.2006 4:37pm
whit:
"I have heard a lot of people claim that a contact Tase will not disable. I have yet to see that cited to anywhere. It seems if the only difference between the "drive stun" contact Tase and the "shooting" a person with a taser is whether the little probes shoot out or whether they stay in the gun, this guy would have been immobilized"

i have seen several DOZEN people contact tased, since many police officers have it done to them as part of training.

so, my n > 50

it pretty much comes down to this. you can (and i have) give numerous warnings to just leave. also, i don't know if the cops themselves asked for ID once they arrived and he refused them also (clearly obstructing), or if his refusal to provide ID to CSO's themselves would give them PC to arrest (CSO's are like quasi LEO's and i wouldn't be surprised if the guys refusal to leave or provide ID to the CSO would ahve given the cops PC).

these incidents are exceedingly rare. cops probably have ejected scores of people from the library w.o incident.

why?

cause most people when told to LEAVE by the police - do so.

i think the trespassing statute is kind of irrelevant, because iirc he wasn't charged/cited for trespass.

he was charged in regards to the obstructing.

the guy is such a colossal idiot, but moreso he is a criminally colossal idiot.

u can only do the monty python thing so long

"leave"
"no"
"leave"
"no"
and then you have to do something more.
11.20.2006 5:04pm
s806:
Well if we can say anything definitive about the incident, every UCLA student with have their I.D.'s on them for the rest of the semester.

People consistently believe that any use of force to gain compliance against those that are passively resisting is excessive.

If you do what Law enforcement officers request, you eliminate your risk of being tasered.
11.20.2006 5:06pm
Dom (mail):
Does anyone know why the student shouted "Here's your f'ing Patriot act"? What did the patriot act have to do with this? Isn't the ID just UCLA policy?
11.20.2006 5:07pm
whit:
dom, it's just political posturing

the patriot act had nothing to do with it, but when your engaging in political theatre, the facts are not an issue
11.20.2006 5:09pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You people really have no sense of proportion or what the reasonable use of force means, do you. For a bunch of libertarians, you sure as hell love excessive use of force, don't you?

Just look at some undisputed facts. The guy might have been an incredible jerk and a total asshole, but at no time was he a physical threat to anyone. No one has alleged that--so don't try and say, "well maybe the cops fealt threatened". What apparently happened is that when the cops tried to forcibly remove him after he started to leave voluntarily he went limp. When he refused to walk out, that is when the cops started tasering him. WTF justifies that?

Another point. Isn't UCLA a public university, paid for by the taxpayers of the state of California. Why on earth shouldn't the library at UCLA be open to the public? What business does anyone have checking IDs in a public building paid for by the taxpayers unless the person in the library is being disruptive or is acting suspiciously?
11.20.2006 5:21pm
WHOI Jacket:
J.F Thomas.

I'd like to try your arguement at the statehouse.

"You don't need my ID, Copper! This is a public building, paid for by the taxpayers of the state of California. Who cares that it's 11pm."
11.20.2006 5:31pm
WHOI Jacket:
Also, is UCLA's library a Federal Documents Repository. I know my original school (Georgia Tech) library was. I'd say there's a vested interested in controlling after hours access. We always had to show the armed security guards our ID badges.
11.20.2006 5:33pm
whit:
wow, i don't know where to begin. i'll try the beginning

"You people really have no sense of proportion or what the reasonable use of force means, do you. For a bunch of "libertarians, you sure as hell love excessive use of force, don't you?"

begs the question. assumes the force was excessive.

"Just look at some undisputed facts. The guy might have been an incredible jerk and a total asshole, but at no time was he a physical threat to anyone."

assumes that taser use (or handcuffing presumably) is only justifiable (whether by policy or law) when somebody is a "physical threat"

nowhere in the Taser use of force policy is the fact that the guy is or isn't a "physical threat" at all relevant.


"No one has alleged that--so don't try and say, "well maybe the cops fealt threatened". What apparently happened is that when the cops tried to forcibly remove him after he started to leave voluntarily he went limp. When he refused to walk out, that is when the cops started tasering him. WTF justifies that?"

first of all, i am not aware they forcibly removed him AFTER he started to leave voluntarily.

are u?


"Another point. Isn't UCLA a public university, paid for by the taxpayers of the state of California. Why on earth shouldn't the library at UCLA be open to the public? What business does anyone have checking IDs in a public building paid for by the taxpayers unless the person in the library is being disruptive or is acting suspiciously?"

that has zero relevance to the issue of force here.

zero.

even if the UCLA policy (which is that only students are allowed in the library after 11 pm, and are subjcet to ID checks) is not reasonable, or even legal, that is an issue to be appealed to a competent authority.

it does not justify the student's actions on the date in question.

the cops were enforcing the school policy, and unless told otherwise by a competent legal authority (like the dept. legal advisor), they HAVE to assume the policy is lawful.
11.20.2006 5:37pm
Toby:
J. F. THomas.

Next, on to the women's dorm at 2:00 am. It is buit by the public after all.

IIANM, UCLA was the site of the notorious toenail bandit for several years. I wonder if this rule arrived in response to that.
11.20.2006 5:40pm
NRWO:
RE: 01.24 PAIN COMPLIANCE TECHNIQUES (FOR UCLA POLICE OFFICERS)

My comments are italicized in brackets.

(a) The potential for injury to the officer(s) or others if the technique is not used, [The potential for injury to the officers and others in the library could have increased following the tasing of the subject and the subsequent gathering of students around the subject.]

(b) The potential risk of serious injury to the individual being controlled, [Tasing, which temporarily paralyzes the subject, can result in falls that cause injury.]

(c) The degree to which the pain compliance technique may be controlled in application according to the level of resistance, [The subject apparently fell limp and resisted leaving the library. Whether this constitutes an appropriate application of pain according to the level of resistance will, in the end, be a matter of judgment.]

(d) The nature of the offense involved, [I should think the police would claim trespassing. Did the police inform the student of his infraction ("You're trespassing and we're going to arrest you if you don't leave now"), when they approached him, before things got out of hand?]

(e) The level of resistance of the individual(s) involved, [The subject apparently fell limp and resisted leaving the library after being told to do so by the officers.]

(f) The need for prompt resolution of the situation, [I am not sure tasing promptly resolved the situation -- and it could have prolonged the ordeal and allowed an angry crowd to gather (see point a above). I agree with the guy above: After the cuffs were on, the officers could have hog-tied the subject and promptly hauled him out of the library. Still, an important question that the investigation will address is whether the ordeal needed to get the point of having to cuff and tase the subject.]

(g) If time permits (e.g. passive demonstrators), other reasonable alternatives. [The YouTube video (which is bad quality) seems to show the subject engaging passive resistance.]
11.20.2006 6:00pm
Jon Katz8 (mail) (www):
The Underdog Blog addresses some of the legal and civil liberties issues about this police brutality at http://www.markskatz.com/justiceblog, from yesterday:

The attached video from November 14, 2006, shows police in hyper-control and brutality mode -- tasing multiple times a UCLA student accused of nothing worse than being in the UCLA library without identification to permit him to be there and not leaving when asked by a university employee. Then the police tase him again when -- shocked and in pain over the first tase -- the gentleman does not leave the library quickly enough to the liking of the police. The university admits the student was tased multiple times... (See here for more information http://www.markskatz.com/justiceblog).

.
11.20.2006 7:41pm
whit:
"The attached video from November 14, 2006, shows police in hyper-control and brutality mode"

lol. "hyper-control and brutality mode"

yea, nice objective link there.

spare me that incendiary rubbish
11.20.2006 8:32pm
whit:
"The attached video from November 14, 2006, shows police in hyper-control and brutality mode"

lol. "hyper-control and brutality mode"

yea, nice objective link there.

spare me that incendiary rubbish
11.20.2006 8:33pm
Dom:
Joe Katz8

"...a UCLA student accused of nothing worse than being in the UCLA library without identification to permit him to be there ..." Had they known he was a student -- had he not refused to show them an ID -- none of this would have happened.

I hate situations like this. The jerk purposely caused an uproar, and then acted like he was innocent. And to prove you are a liberal, you have to pretend to be blind enough to buy his story. Just stop making excuses. The kid got what he wanted.
11.20.2006 8:46pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
CAIR is standing up for this guy, so I think that means he's Muslim.

Could be he's just an asshole who happens to be Muslim.

Could be he's "working the refs". If enough well-funded legal stuff happens to the cops and the U with this and other issues, eventually Muslims will have more room to move around in, as a practical matter.

You will note the Muslim Society of America issued a fatwa this spring in Minneapolis instructing a bunch of bewildered Somali cab drivers to refuse to transport people with booze. Not a religious item. Trying to see how much bullshit the infidel will take. One slice at a time.

If you think there is no connection, good for you. Nice to have faith.
11.20.2006 8:47pm
Potbelly (mail):
Interesting.

Assuming that the administration finds this to be reasonable, then "we" need to make sure that actions get taken to show that this is NOT reasonable. "We" need to clarify to the police, or any legal authority, that such behavior will not be tolerated.

Has any reason been provided as to why the police did not, even after the fact, provide names and badge numbers to the individuals who requested it?

I use the term "we" to mean freedom minded individuals. Some will find this definition inflammatory.
11.20.2006 9:22pm
whit:
this name and badge #'s thing is ridiculous

the police are in the MIDDLE of arresting the guy. there are people with cameras, they have already tased the guy. they are obviously going to write a report.

it's not like it's gonna be a mystery who they are. when and if the incident is UNDER CONTROL, then I could see the question as reasonable, but it is kind of silly to think that they are trying to cover their indentity.

it is a total non-issue.

i'm also not aware that AFTER the FACT they didn't provde names and badge #'s (assuming they even have badge #'s. many dept's don't, but i digress).

and potbelly, have you ever tried to arrest and drag (deadweight) somebody who is resisting, passively or actively, amongst a crowd of people, where you are VASTLY outnumbered, etc.

the cops, as far as i can see from the video, acted reasonably, and for good reason, wanted to get the suspect OUTSIDE, get a name check going (they didn't know if he actually was a student, or what), and get some cover from an increasingly hostile crowd.

this guy felt he was being "racially profiled". fine. then, file a complaint. but if the cops say "LEAVE", then go.
11.20.2006 9:46pm
NotALegalEagle:
Curious that I've seen the statement "outnumbered" serveral times. For the police to be outnumbereed would not the other people at the scene have to be in violation of the law and to some small extent "with" the perpetrator? Otherwise aren't they just spectators and/or witnesses? And as such is it not completely incorrect to be putting them in opposition to the police officers and using that opposition as justification for an increased level of physicality?
11.20.2006 10:05pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
assumes that taser use (or handcuffing presumably) is only justifiable (whether by policy or law) when somebody is a "physical threat"

According to the LA Times, even the LA Sherriff's department was surprised to learn that UCLA allows the use of tasers for non-physical threats. The Sherriff's department only allows the use of tasers when there is a physical threat. And I would say yes, or any technique designed primarily intended to cause pain.

Next, on to the women's dorm at 2:00 am. It is buit by the public after all.

Don't be ridiculous, I think we all can differentiate between public buildings and limited-access buildings owned by the government. Anyway I doubt that UCLA has anything as quaint as a women's dorm (but maybe a womyn's dorm ;) ).

Also, is UCLA's library a Federal Documents Repository.

Actually, if it is, that strengthens my point. Federal Documents Repositories are supposed to be open to the public. It says so right there on the sign designating the building as such. I don't know when you were at Georgia Tech, but I used to use the library there in the late '80s frequently, and I wasn't a student.
11.20.2006 10:19pm
whit:
I'm a firearms and use of force instructor myself, jf.

*i* was surprised too, at that policy,too

but that IS what their policy says.
11.20.2006 10:39pm
whit:
"Curious that I've seen the statement "outnumbered" serveral times. For the police to be outnumbereed would not the other people at the scene have to be in violation of the law and to some small extent "with" the perpetrator? Otherwise aren't they just spectators and/or witnesses? "

yes, but i can tell you as somebody who has had to make "unpopular arrests" and use of forces amidst crowds, they CAN turn hostile very quickly.

it is not that they are "hostiles" but it is also true that when you are making an arrest in a crowd of people, and you are in a situation where if even a %age of the people WERE to turn, that you would be outnumbered, you are smart to create distance and get the suspect away from the crowd - and not just for your safety, but for his safety as well. since, once he is in your custody, and he is handcuffed, you are 100% responsible for his safety as well as your own.

"And as such is it not completely incorrect to be putting them in opposition to the police officers and using that opposition as justification for an increased level of physicality?"

i'm saying that the fact that the cops were amidst A crowd gives you increased reason to want to remove the arrrestee FROM the area more quickly, vs. just sitting there and letting the situation fester and POSSIBLY get worse.

that is basic officer safety and basic crowd tactics. it's part of controlling the situation and putting yourself (and the suspect) in a safer environment.

i have seen crowds turn hostile and ugly VERY quickly, and that often happens around arrests - i saw it first hand during WTO riots and during mardi gras riots.

cops do the same thing when they make arrests at sporting events. you get the guy AWAY from the crowd as quickly as possible. it's common sense, and good tactics
11.20.2006 10:44pm
Wendy:
The repeated tasering seemed to escalate the hostility of the student and the crowd. Minneapolis doesn't allow tasering of handcuffed or passive supects in most cases either. UCLA is having the policy reviewed by a veteran police watchdog group.
11.21.2006 12:02am
whit:
iirc, there was a hyoooge outcry (a kunstler explosion) years back when passive protestors were pepper sprayed (specifiocally q-tips with pepper spray applied to eyes) after they refused to break ranks and move on.

there is certainly reason to review the UCLA policy, but i see no problem (in theory) with contact tases on passive resistance subjects, especially after numerous verbal commands are given
11.21.2006 12:17am
Tom Cross (mail) (www):
I agree with JF Thomas. There are some hard core authoritarians on this board. If you think that any amount of violence visited on a person because they refused to comply with authorities is warranted, irrespective of the circumstances, you're a hard core authoritarian.

There seems to be a question here about whether they really do a significant number of ID checks or if this student was singled out because he was brown. We don't know, so lets give this to the authoritarians. It was a random ID check. He refused to comply. Officials never do anything wrong.

However, I seriously doubt that UCLA needs to be performing random ID checks to begin with. I'm not sure what security purpose this serves. Presumably, homeless people might carry ID. If they do, does that mean they get to sleep in the library? If someone commits a crime in the library, and you catch him, do you really need to check his ID prior to arresting him? If someone commits a crime in the library, and has ID, but you don't catch him, what good did it do you? Basically, this is a dumb security measure that makes people feel good but doesn't actually make people safe. Maybe it does serve some legitimate purpose but I can't think of any right now. Unless someone comes up with a good counterpoint, I'm going to call this "security theater."

Now, an anti-authoritarian might be annoyed at having to display ID for the purpose of "security theater" even if its random. So he refuses. So they call the police.

Based on the person's age and what they are doing in the library, the police should have gone into this with the assumption that this was a student. Students have a right to be in the library. The fact that he doesn't have ID is a technicality. It might be against the rules, but it doesn't hurt anyone. As a matter of fact he is where he is supposed to be, and he obviously posseses some sort of identification. If he had it on him and agreed to show it, the point would be moot, regardless of what that identification said on it! Its not like they are running these IDs through a background check. So, basically, its not a big deal that he doesn't have ID. Remember, this is security theater. It means nothing.

Now, we don't know how the exchange between the police and the student went down. However, if his retoric was anything like the retoric he was spouting when they started tasering him, it should have been obvious that he wasn't refusing to show ID in order to protect some sort of evil motive (whatever the hell that might be). He just doesn't want to show ID. He is failing to comply with the rules because he thinks the rules are dumb. (I agree.)

The best thing the police could have done is defuse the situation and get him to leave. Thats all the library wanted. Instead, I presume, they decided to arrest him. Its not clear at what point that happened. But, again, we'll give it to the authoritarians that the decision to arrest occured before the video started rolling and not during. Officials never do anything wrong.

Now, why would you bother to arrest someone for violating a rule that is meaningless and serves almost no purpose when you could simply convince them to stop violating it and the problem would be solved?!

Because you have an unhealthy obsession with compliance with rules and with your authority. This is where we get to the point where a huge number of students are watching this person getting tortured on the floor of the library. Because he violated a rule that doesn't matter and refused to comply with orders from authority figures who were clearly overreacting to the situation and should have just let him walk out.

Some will say it doesn't matter whether or not the rules make sense or how important they are. Rules are rules, and if you violate them the state may impose unlimited harm upon you to obtain compliance. Thats hard core authoritarianism in a nutshell. This is the attitude that lead the English to put human heads on pikes and leave them up around London.

A reasonable person might wonder whether the rules are reasonable, and wonder whether the amount of force was warranted given the significance of the "crime."

What of the officer, who, holding an unholstered taser at the end of a video, threatens to taser another student because that student is demanding an explanation for the amount of force used? If I threatened to taser the officer in exactly the same way I assume that the people on this board would have no problem if I spent a few years in prison for it. But there is no problem if the officer threatens others without provocation. Why? Because he is an officer? I don't think free people think that way.
11.21.2006 3:51am
Ragerz (mail):
I think this policy of tasing passive individuals is a bad policy. I don't think the student's actions were justified; however, I think the police response was even less justified. That response may be allowed by policy, but these police officers exhibited some serious stupidity. One should try to resolve issues in a more peaceful manner if possible, and in this case it seemed very possible.

I think the likely results of this incident will be a change in policy.
11.21.2006 3:56am
Tom Cross (mail) (www):
According to the university, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a 23-year-old senior, was asked for his ID as part of a routine nightly procedure to make sure that everyone using the library after 11 p.m. is a student or otherwise authorized to be there.

So, perhaps they are specifically looking for university IDs and other IDs are not good enough. This would explain the security purpose behind the ID checks, in that they are ejecting everyone who isn't part of the university community at 11. Its not just security theater. However, the fact remains that this person was most likely to be a student given his age and the context. Even if he wasn't, the police had obviously managed to get him to leave, which is the purpose of the policy. Regardless of who he is, he was authorized to be there when he arrived. They decided to uproot him from his studying and eject him because it was after 11. If they had picked someone else for the random ID check he would have stayed to no event. Its still not a big deal. There has been no allegation that he was hurting anyone or disturbing other library patrons prior to the ID check. There was no need to arrest him.

Now, why would you bother to arrest someone for violating a rule that is meaningless and serves almost no purpose when you could simply convince them to stop violating it and the problem would be solved?!

That fact that the rule may have some limited utility doesn't change this question. What is the reason he was arrested? Surely not because he was in the library without ID. Its because he argued with the authorities about the ID requirement. He was arrested for arguing with the authorities.
11.21.2006 4:23am
David M. Nieporent (www):
there is certainly reason to review the UCLA policy, but i see no problem (in theory) with contact tases on passive resistance subjects, especially after numerous verbal commands are given
Really? What's the purpose of a taser? To shock (literally and figuratively) the subject by inflicting temporary pain, in order to induce compliance. How can inflicting pain on a non-violent, passive resister ever be justified? We're not talking about a person holding a weapon; that obviously presents an entirely different context. We're talking about someone who won't move when asked to do so. (Nor are we talking about a situation where his failure to move itself results in harm, such as blocking a street and preventing an emergency vehicle from moving.) Nor are we talking about a hard-core criminal; we're talking about a college student who at most was guilty of trespass. (And not real trespass, in the sense of being where he wasn't allowed to be; just trespass in the sense of not showing his ID when required by the rules to do so.) What exactly would have been the harm from not tasering him, besides that the cops wouldn't have gotten to bully someone?

The student here may have been foolish, but the cops could easily have just walked him out of the building, instead of trying to arrest him. In a narrow technical sense they may have had probable cause to arrest him, but they didn't have justification to arrest him. And if they hadn't tried to arrest him, he would have left. And they wouldn't have needed to resort to force.


the cops were enforcing the school policy, and unless told otherwise by a competent legal authority (like the dept. legal advisor), they HAVE to assume the policy is lawful.
For future reference, the phrase you're looking for is "just following orders." ("It's not just for Germans anymore.")
11.21.2006 7:15am
Ken Arromdee:
What is the reason he was arrested? Surely not because he was in the library without ID.

A crime continues to be a crime after you stop committing it. If you trespass, you can be arrested for trespassing even if you later decide when the cops come that you'll stop trespassing then.
11.21.2006 9:45am
jallgor (mail):
The use of this level of force may have been consistent with UCLA's policy and I have noted all the arguments above for why it was reasonable but I find it hard for anyone to argue that the police exercised good judgment here. Both the intial tasing and the follow ups seemed unnecessary at best to me. Regardless, by choosing to go that route, the police have exposed themselves and the university to a great deal of public scorn and probably a whopping civil suit (which the school will likely settle regardless of the merits). The cops will also likely live through a personal nightmare for the next few months of tribunals and suspensions and at the very least they will have hurt their chances for advancement within the department. Do you ever really want to be known as the cop who tased an unarmed and, from the looks of it, nonviolent student inside a school library? Seems to me there was a lot of stupidity on both sides of this incident.
11.21.2006 11:39am
whit:
"However, the fact remains that this person was most likely to be a student given his age and the context"

that is not at all a fact that remains and is typical of the kind of 20/20 hindsight that people use in evaluating situations like that.

the "context"? what context? he was IN THE LIBRARY? for pete's sake, the whole point of the policy is to ID people in the library after 11pm.

if you don't like the policy, then complain about the policy, but AFTER he refused to present ID *and* refused to leave, the cops were called. ANY good cop is gonna investigate. WHY didn't he provide ID? not a student? warrants? what?

imo, any cop that DIDN'T detain the guy, being that they had lawful authority for obstructing and run his name for warrants, check to see if he was a student, would be a lame cop.
11.21.2006 12:19pm
whit:
"What is the reason he was arrested? Surely not because he was in the library without ID. "

it's called obstructing.

if LEO's have a lawful reason to give an order (such as leave the library) and/or ID you, and you refuse to do so- you are obstructing - period.

if it gets to the point where they are tasing and dragging you cause you continually refuse to cooperate, etc. you are going to get criminally cited - as he was.
11.21.2006 12:21pm
Sparky:
Of course, Taser Boy should have shown his ID and/or complied with the police request to leave. That's what you or I would have done. He's a bunghole of massive proportions. But that only means that he was subject to arrest (at most -- see P.S. below). It tells you nothing about how the arrest could be carried out.

The important thing is that (as he and the police agree) he was passively resisting, by going limp and falling to the floor, exclusively; at no time was he actively resisting.

Under those circumstances, use of a REGULAR Taser would be excessive force. A regular ("dart-mode" or "probe-mode") Taser shoots two barbs into the skin, then sends a high voltage current between them, thereby stunning and incapacitating the subject/perp/victim. That's unreasonable, because the police could obviously achieve their goal with a lesser degree of force; they could use pain compliance, or they could just drag the mope away.

The UCLA police, however, used a Taser in "drive-stun mode." To me, this makes all the difference. In drive-stun mode, the barbs aren't used at all. Instead, the Taser is pressed directly against the subject's body, so that a lower voltage travels a very short distance. This is painful but not incapacitating. (If you saw the video, you know that immediately after the Taser is applied, Taser Boy is already bitching loudly.) Thus, it is just another form of pain compliance. Pain compliance is an appropriate, nonexcessive response to passive resistance.

P.S. Why aren't more people questioning the legality of the initial demand for Taser Boy's ID? Surely random ID checks are unconstitutional! It seems to me that the police need at least a reasonable suspicion that a person in the library after 11 p.m. is not a student before they can demand ID. If so, then requiring Taser Boy to leave because he failed to produce ID, and then arresting him for failing to leave, were also unconstitutional.

P.P.S. For those who want a citation regarding "drive-stun mode," see: http://www.policeone.com/less-lethal/articles/139854
http://www.lmnc.org/pdfs/LMCITMemos/Tasers.pdf

P.P.P.S. Did you know that the Taser is an acronym derived from "Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle"? Yup, THAT Tom Swift. He had an electric rifle in a 1911 story.
11.21.2006 12:22pm
whit:
"The student here may have been foolish, but the cops could easily have just walked him out of the building, "

again, total rubbish

"easily walked him out of the building". real life is not like TJ Hooker. it is not easy to drag somebody offering passive resistance, nor is it necessarily smart. the guy can still kick and try to run (his legs are not restrained), and he has the duty to comply and walk out and he didn't.

many uses of force (and serious injuries to suspects, officers, and innocent bystanders) happen in incidents like this.

again, one may not agree with the policy of UCLA vis a vis tasers (i certainly don't agree with the part about juveniles), but that's kind of irrelevant to whether the cops were acting within policy, and whether the policy is lawful, if not "the best" policy.
11.21.2006 12:24pm
whit:
"Why aren't more people questioning the legality of the initial demand for Taser Boy's ID? Surely random ID checks are unconstitutional! It seems to me that the police need at least a reasonable suspicion that a person in the library after 11 p.m. is not a student before they can demand ID. If so, then requiring Taser Boy to leave because he failed to produce ID, and then arresting him for failing to leave, were also unconstitutional. "

um...

random ID checks in public (apart from so called voluntary social contacts) are unconstitutional.

in the library, after 11 pm, the policy probably IS constitutional. especially, if the library has a sign saying "students only after 11 pm, you are subject to ID check", that would be relevant too.
11.21.2006 12:27pm
whit:
**the cops were enforcing the school policy, and unless told otherwise by a competent legal authority (like the dept. legal advisor), they HAVE to assume the policy is lawful.**
"For future reference, the phrase you're looking for is "just following orders." ("It's not just for Germans anymore.")"

oh spare me the tired nazi references. this is such a lame refuge. it seems like nearly every thread, when somebody has no argument, and no point, the classic godwinism comes out - make a NAZI COMPARISON

the policy appears prima facie reasonable. the university passed the policy. individual cops are not supposed to sit around, navel gaze, and opine all the reasons why a policy might suck. they had every reason to believe the policy is lawful (i think it's certainly lawful).

so, again, spare me the tired nazi references. it is insulting to the UCLA PD, and to the victims of nazism.
11.21.2006 12:30pm
whit:
"Based on the person's age and what they are doing in the library, the police should have gone into this with the assumption that this was a student"

absolutely 100% not true. and frankly, this would be "ageism". are the police to ASSUME that if the kid is of student age, he IS a student. so, therefore, if a 'nonconventional" middle-aged student is present in the library, it's ok to id HIM, and not the kid?

the whole point of RANDOM ID CHECKS in the library, is that the cops are supposed to do the EXACT opposite - NOT assume the kid is or isn't a student, but to VERIFY that with student ID. that's why you HAVE student ID, which the kid refused to show the CSO's

the idea that the cops should have assumed the kid was a student CONTRARY to policy is incredibly dumb.

"I agree with JF Thomas. There are some hard core authoritarians on this board. If you think that any amount of violence visited on a person because they refused to comply with authorities is warranted, irrespective of the circumstances, you're a hard core authoritarian"

complete strawman. nobody has said 'any amount of violence' is warranted. the issue is, is THIS amount of violence warranted.

"Now, we don't know how the exchange between the police and the student went down. However, if his retoric was anything like the retoric he was spouting when they started tasering him, it should have been obvious that he wasn't refusing to show ID in order to protect some sort of evil motive (whatever the hell that might be). He just doesn't want to show ID. He is failing to comply with the rules because he thinks the rules are dumb. (I agree.) "

again, totally irrelevant. his motives are irrelevant and no cop shoudl consider this at all. if the guy wants to engage in (moronic) political theatre, etc. it does nto ALSO follow that he is not a student, or that he does not ahve warrants, etc. the issue is *he* chose to refuse and he does not have that right, under the policy.

period.

the best thing would NOT have been "just to let the guy leave". no GOOD cop would do so. this is what economists refer to as "perverse incentive"

you are rewarding the person for violating the policy. he refuses to leave or provide ID to the CSO's, and he does not get a 'free pass'.

quite frequently when people refuse to provide ID, there is a good reason - they ARE trespassing (not a student) and/or they do have warrants.

and GIVEN that the cops (and CSO's) had lawful authority to request ID/ask to leave *and* he refused, ANY good cop is going to investigate further.

he doesn't get a free pass. what if the kid does the same thing tomorrow night? the CSO's again request his id, again he refuses (being emboldened by his free pass the previous night) etc.

sorry.
11.21.2006 12:38pm
Tom Cross (mail) (www):
Ken: Do we always arrest everyone who commits any crime? Bonus points if you can name a less serious crime than studying in a library without an ID that doesn't involve a parking meter.

Whit: Chances are fairly good that people in the school library between the ages of 18 and 24 are students. That doesn't mean he is a student, but its likely. Why would he fail to show ID because he had warrants out? The library employees aren't doing warrant checks. So what if he isn't a student. The point is that he has to leave. He was obviously leaving. Mission accomplished.

I agree that it makes sense for them to question him. We don't know what went on before the video started. Perhaps they already had enough information to assess the situation. Perhaps they didn't. I might suggest that the person with the phone wouldn't have bothered to start recording if the situation wasn't already questionable, but we don't know.

However, lets assume that the video starts when the cops first arrived. In the video we don't see cops trying to get an angry person to calm down so that they can get some information out of him. When he stopped walking this was a perfect opportunity to say something like "We just want to talk." Instead they threatened to tase him, and started doing it. Call it obstruction or whatever you want to call it. The bottom line is that it was not necessary to tase this person over and over again. I don't agree that passively failing to comply with orders from the police warrants violent retaliation. There were other ways to handle the situation.
11.21.2006 1:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
"easily walked him out of the building". real life is not like TJ Hooker. it is not easy to drag somebody offering passive resistance, nor is it necessarily smart. the guy can still kick and try to run (his legs are not restrained), and he has the duty to comply and walk out and he didn't.
I think you miss my point. He was trying to leave. They decided they wanted to arrest him. That's what he was resisting. If they hadn't decided to drastically escalate the situation just to bully him, he would have been out of the building.

again, one may not agree with the policy of UCLA vis a vis tasers (i certainly don't agree with the part about juveniles), but that's kind of irrelevant to whether the cops were acting within policy, and whether the policy is lawful, if not "the best" policy.
I'm not disputing "whether the cops were acting within policy." I'm disputing whether the policy is legitimate. And if it isn't, whether they were acting within it is irrelevant. (Even if the policy is technically legitimate, cops -- like prosecutors -- exercise discretion all the time. They don't automatically arrest everybody whenever they see a statute being violated.)


he doesn't get a free pass. what if the kid does the same thing tomorrow night? the CSO's again request his id, again he refuses (being emboldened by his free pass the previous night) etc.
Then cops might have to take time away from eating donuts to escort him out tomorrow night, too.
11.21.2006 1:21pm
whit:
Tom, the reason he was arrested (and note he wasn't even booked) was that he CONTINUALLY and REPEATEDLY obstructed, and once there is a full-on force application, the cops are NEVER going to give a warning for the criminal acts that resulted in the force. ever. that is police 101


the point that it is "a fairly good chance" that the people in the library between 18 and 24 are students is 100 percent irrelevant. i really mean that. the university already decided that, for whatever reason, ONLY students are allowed after 11pm, and that LEO's are to conduct random ID checks to enforce that policy.

period.

it has zero relevance - the guys age, or the relative probability he was or wasn't a student.

i really can't stress this enough. it simply DOES NOT MATTER what his age was, or that he was "probably a student".

whether or not it was "necessary" to tase him over and over again, is a classic example of another irrelevancy. i am far from saying the cops handled this optimally. the issue was, was the force 1) lawful 2) reasonable (and the taser policy is the most important determinant of that).

i'm not "calling it obstruction". it *is* obstruction.

there most definitely were other ways to handle the situation. and in 20.20 hindsight, some might be better, others worse, even within the spectrum of ways to handle it that were all lawful and within policy.

and we never will know, or can know, how the other ways of handling it would have worked out

when examining ANY use of force incident, what is relevant (and i say this again as a firearms/use of force instructor) is what was known to the cops at the time of the incident, and what would a reasonable police officer do in those circumstances.

any # of scenarios could have turned out worse -or better. just dragging the guy out could have been worse or better. and we'll never know





not whether it was NECESSARY.
11.21.2006 1:35pm
whit:
"I think you miss my point. He was trying to leave."

assuming that is true, he had ALREADY obstructed, and any good cop is not just going to say 'oh, whatever'

they had already decided to detain him, and he brushed the cop off and refused their lawful directions

once cops make the decision to detain and.or arrest, he doesn't get a 'do over'


" They decided they wanted to arrest him. That's what he was resisting. If they hadn't decided to drastically escalate the situation just to bully him, he would have been out of the building. "

begging the question. they did not decided to "drastically escalate the situation just to bully him". that's incendiary rubbish

they were enforcing the polciy, that this subject repeatedly and clearly was violating. and they decided not just to say 'whatever" and to ID him and detain him

that was well within their authority, and imo their DUTY to do so.

i would be sorely dissapointed if we ever get to the point where if the cops have a reason to detain somebody, and he brushes them off, that the cops just say 'whatever" and let him go.

ANY time you decide to detain somebody you have a use of force (command presence, verbal and.or physical commands/restraint)

the guy in the library CHOSE to escalate the situation
11.21.2006 1:40pm
Kazinski:
The incident shows the problem with trying to over civilize the police. Once he was asked to identify himself and he refused they should have subdued him, hand cuffed him and hauled him off to jail. He already had his chance to leave before the cops got there. The whole video demonstrates how every one loses their self respect when the police are lowered to using a battery powered device to compell complience. He wasn't complying, the matter should have been taken out of the students hands.

When I get my 15 minutes I hope I don't spend most of it screaming like a girl.
11.21.2006 1:50pm
Public_Defender (mail):
The real damage of this incident is to student-UCLA-Cop relations. Most of a cop's power is soft--they ask us do do things and we do. But as "Taser Boy" found out, cops can sometimes use hard power to back up their "requests."

I bet UCLA cops are going to have a harder time getting students to respond to "requests."

Is California a state where people have the privilege to resist an unlawful arrest? If so, then UCLA cops may even have trouble exercising their hard power. (Note: resisting arrest, even where legally privileged, is usually a really stupid thing to do.)

And now that the Taser-using cop has been identified, he may have a hard time doing his job.
11.21.2006 2:14pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It's possible, if you know what you're doing, to get a wristlock or arm bar on a guy and paincomply him into walking peacably out with you.
Problem is, it usuall takes two of your hands to tie up one of his until you get situated after which you can use one hand, leaving his other arm and both legs free. So that's going to take two cops to do safely.
And if he resists, they're going to put pressure on the joint and he'll yell. And struggle, and so forth.
And the point--cops are blue meanies--will have been made. It's political theater.
So if the cops are going to get that label, they may as well get it more safely than trying to latch on to a guy who may punch them.
11.21.2006 3:28pm
whit:
"It's possible, if you know what you're doing, to get a wristlock or arm bar on a guy and paincomply him into walking peacably out with you.
Problem is, it usuall takes two of your hands to tie up one of his until you get situated after which you can use one hand, leaving his other arm and both legs free. So that's going to take two cops to do safely.
And if he resists, they're going to put pressure on the joint and he'll yell"

absolutely. and that is a use of force option.

i have also seen, more than once, same option resulting in injury (strained tendon) and in one case - a broken wrist

like it or not, tasers are in many cases - safer (for the cop, the subject and the citizens at large), than a cop going "hands on".

although if the guy was already in handcuffs, it is relatively easy to effect a nice wristlock and lead him out on his tippytoes.

the thing that a lot of people have a hard time grokking is that uses of force, however justified, simply LOOK bad.
11.21.2006 3:40pm
Ragerz (mail):
whit,

"the thing that a lot of people have a hard time grokking is that uses of force, however justified, simply LOOK bad."

It is not about how force looks. It is about whether it is necessary. I don't think that the use of force here was reasonable, because it probably wasn't necessary. At the very least, it was resorted to too soon.

If this guy had punched a cop, or done something active and threatening, the opinions of many us who thinks that the cops acted stupidly would be different. But use of force "looks" the same in that situation.

The reason that UCLA PD allows the use of pain against passive resisters is probably because they expect that police officers will exercise their discretion intelligently. In this case, these neanderthals failed to use their brains. As a result, their is this public uproar and the likely result will be a policy change. To the extent that this policy change results in police having less discretion, these idiots will have hurt their colleagues.
11.21.2006 3:54pm
whit:
oh, but it IS about how force looks. trust me, if u don't think that comes into play all the time in police work, just look at when SPD gave an ORDER to all their cops NOT to engage any rioters who were beating people up during Mardi Gras (and kris kime subsequently got killed)

it's ALL about, all too often, how force LOOKS.

and it is NOT about whether it is necessasry. it is about whether it is REASONABLE. there is a difference

you calling the police "idiots" adds nothing to a rational discussion, and i expect better.

it MAY not have been the best force option, and otoh, it may have been. we'll never know what would have happened if they had chosen a drag for example.

there were apparently, no injuries as a result of the use of force, and that's a pretty good result.

all too often, "hands on" force (vs. taser) DOES result in sprained wrists, joints, strained backs, etc.
11.21.2006 4:05pm
Tom Cross (mail) (www):
Whit:
Nobody has said 'any amount of violence' is warranted. the issue is, is THIS amount of violence warranted.

Now we're getting somewhere. So far the argument has been "violence was warranted because he refuse to comply with orders" or "because he broke a rule." Clearly, there are kinds of violence that aren't warranted regardless of whether or not he refused to comply with orders, and you agree. So, the question is, what is warranted here. This is a subjective question, but as a rule of thumb I think the answer is no more than what is needed.

Whether or not it was "necessary" to tase him over and over again, is a classic example of another irrelevancy. i am far from saying the cops handled this optimally. the issue was, was the force 1) lawful 2) reasonable (and the taser policy is the most important determinant of that).


So, I hate to rehash someone else's previous post, but this doesn't seem in line with the policy. It says that officers should consider:

a) The potential for injury to the officer(s) or others if the technique is not used,

As far as we know, none.

(b) The potential risk of serious injury to the individual being controlled,

I figure he was probably lying about having a medical condition, but the officers didn't know that any more then they knew whether or not he was a student.

(d) The nature of the offense involved,

In other words, any offense is not grounds for use of pain compliance. This text is intended to limit the use of pain compliance in cases where the offense is minor. I would rank most moving violations above studying in the library without ID given that the former actually has the potential to hurt people.

(e) The level of resistance of the individual(s) involved,

Clearly this means that "any" level of resistance is not a justification. This text is intended to encourage officers not to use pain compliance in cases of minor (perhaps passive?) resistance.

(f) The need for prompt resolution of the situation,

The officers have argued that the crowd response was provoked by the student and I can see them extending this argument to imply that this increased the need to deal with the situation rapidly. I think they're wrong on the former count and they'd be wrong on the later. The students weren't responding to screaming about the patriot act. They were responding to the behavior of the police. The students were concerned about the tasing. The police behavior generated the student response, and not the other way around.

(g) If time permits (e.g. passive demonstrators), other reasonable alternatives.

Other reasonable alteratives existed. The student was passively resisting.

Frankly, I just don't see the justification for this action in this policy. However, I personally don't care whether the problem is that the officers violated the policy or that the policy is wrong. Bottom line, it was excessive force. Dithering over whose fault it was is just a matter of figuring out where the fix needs to occur.
11.21.2006 4:40pm
whit:
a) you're wrong. anytime you have to drag a person, there is a potential for injury to you, and the person being dragged

b) ok.


you skipped (C) :)

d) i also found wrong. obstruction is a continuing offense, and the guy was also drawing a crowd, making a scene, etc. and the situation could have turned ugly quickly. obstruction is a crime that often (rightly so) makes cops suspect of violence against them and/or escalation, because the person has already shown a defiance (continuous of the law) and of a simple lawful order, vs. say a "paper offense" or something like an expired driver's license, etc. obstruction is not taken lightly, and i can say from personal experience that many suspects self-escalate from verbal to physical obstruction if given any chance whatsoever. and i say that as somebody who in 19 years has never had a use of force complaint against me, despite hundreds of arrests

e) i see this as fine. it was continuous resistance AND the cops gave the guy verbal orders to comply and warnings

i think your conclusion is clearly wrong, and i see no evidence that it was excessive force. it MAY have been excessive force, clearly the investigative process will draw out more facts, but i find your "jumping the gun" pretty amazing. i cannot see how you would jump to such a conclusion based upon such scant evidence.
11.21.2006 7:13pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
and it is NOT about whether it is necessasry. it is about whether it is REASONABLE. there is a difference
It is not REASONABLE to inflict pain when it isn't "necessary" to do so. In short, it is about whether it is necessary.
11.21.2006 7:15pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
e) i see this as fine. it was continuous resistance AND the cops gave the guy verbal orders to comply and warnings
You're misreading this one. It doesn't say, "whether" there's resistance; it says the "level" of resistance. That implies that there's a level of resistance for which it is appropriate, and a level of resistance for which it isn't appropriate. There's no level of resistance below passively sitting there. If that justified it, then there would be no level of resistance that wouldn't.

a) you're wrong. anytime you have to drag a person, there is a potential for injury to you, and the person being dragged
There is "potential" for a meteor hit the spot where he's standing, too, if he isn't moved. That can't be what the policy refers to, because under your interpretation this factor would always be satisfied.

D) Obstruction isn't a real offense; it's just piggybacking. Again, you're interpreting this factor in such a way that it would always be satisfied, which can't be right because it wouldn't make any sense to designate it as a factor. If he wasn't resisting, then there'd be no grounds for tasering him; if he was resisting, then you claim it's "obstruction" and claim that this is justification for tasering him. The factor must refer to the nature of the underlying offense, not the fake offense of not obeying a cop.
11.21.2006 7:25pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
David Nieropent:

Wrong about "potential". I presume you would, upon more thought, try some other example than a meteor to "test" the case.

The potential exists when a person is resisting, even passively, to become violent. After all, there is a reason of some kind the person thinks justifies resistance. And being thwarted in the objective of resistance could trigger an escalation.

There are two other ways to deal with this: One is to lay hold and drag. The other is to use hands-on pain compliance so he motivates himself.

In the first case, the officers could simply have grabbed his wrists and dragged. That did not foreclose the prospect of violence against them, since the kid was a young, active male. With some adrenalin, he could, say, get his feet under him and drive one of the officers off balance and into an obstacle or to the floor. Or bite one of them.
Even if he'd submitted to being dragged, we'd be having this discussion about whether the cops were too mean. It was the objective. I did the civil rights thing decades ago, and this sort of thing was planned. It's for public relations purposes.

Ditto the wrist lock tippytoe walk. Looks bad. More control, but it looks bad and the kid's purpose is served.

The thing that ought to concern about half the folks on this board is what happens if the cops come up with a foolproof way of gaining compliance that has absolutely no visible effects. No yelling. No grabbing. No wincing. No baton. Maybe a pen-sized sprayer of instant comealong narcotic gas. He gets a happy look and off they all go like buddies.

That would certainly put an end to a lot of crap like this kid was trying to pull.
11.21.2006 8:09pm
jonnie richards (mail) (www):
MESSAGE
11.21.2006 9:12pm
whit:
" Obstruction isn't a real offense;"

oh yes it is. in fact, it IS the issue. it was his refusal to provide ID, and refusal to leave that were the issue . period.

the day when obstruction becomes a "fake offense", i will quit my job. i can (and do) deal with a lot of crap, but the day when i can't arrest somebody for disobeying a lawful order (especially when repeatedly given) and cannot use force to gain compliance - well, that's the day I quit. sorry, but if cops are tasked with enforcing the law, they HAVE to have an "or else". and in many cases, the or else is OBSTRUCTION.

"sir, you need to get up and leave"
"no"
"sir, yuo need to leave now. i am giving you one more chance"
"no
"okay. nevermind then. obstruction isn't a crime anymore, so have a nice day"

sorry. that doesn't fly. and in 19 years of police work, i ahve never had an excessive force complaint (let alone a sustained complaint) so i hardly think i am some kind of brute.

in all my eyars, i have never seen somebody arrested for an obstructing type of offense without being given at least one warning *usually several* but at some point, the cops HAVE to say "ok. that's it. your under arrest".

it is not a fake offense. it is absolutely critical to effective law enforcement, investigations, and keeping officers and citizens safe.

and again, u have the issue of perverse incentive. if NOTHING happens when johnny dipsh*t refuses to obey a lawful order, than what possible incentive does he ever have to obey a lawful order?

no other student has been tased (or even arrested) pursuant to this id checking policy as far as i know, because in 99%+ of circumstances people do NOT obstruct. but if they KNOW they can, then this just emboldens lawless thugs. like the guy in this case.

i think part of the problem is that people view the infliction of pain as punitive. well, it sux, and it may appear punitive in EFFECT, but it is not punitive in INTENT which is the issue.

if the intent is to get the subject to comply, he was given orders to comply and he refused, and even better a warning was given first, i think the use of the taser WAS reasonable.

as for the dragging offense, i have a serious problem with the way police officers are ALLOWED to be out of shape. this is a problem with the power of the labor unions, the unwillingngess of police administrators to want to pay for fitness overtime, and the problem with ex-post facto job requirments, but it is an issue.

i think it sux.

but the reality is that officers do get hurt dragging people, and like it or not, the UCLA PD policy gives a pain compliance option for tasing to gain voluntary compliance.
11.21.2006 9:32pm
Tom Cross (mail) (www):
Whit, ultimately, we're going to agree to disagree here. Under your conception of these rules, tasing should always be used as a first resort against anyone who passively fails to comply with an order from an officer, because any obstruction should result in arrest and tasing is the least dangerous means of ensuring compliance. Do I have you right there?

Perhaps now is a good time to bring up Amnesty International's report on tasers. Say what you will about it, but its certainly well researched, and discusses a wide array of cases like this one, many far more disturbing in my mind.

a) you're wrong. anytime you have to drag a person, there is a potential for injury to you, and the person being dragged

This policy isn't just about selecting which force technique to use. It also concerns deciding whether or not to use force at all. There are alternatives to using force.

you skipped (C) :)

Yes, I skipped C. It seems to prohibit certain techniques in most cases unless other factors are overriding. I'm not sure what techniques it is referring to, so I'm not sure how it is supposed to be applied. Perhaps you do? In any event, if the police are issued tasers, I'll assume that tasering people is considered to be acceptible for part C.

d) obstruction is a continuing offense

Your definition of "obstruction" as far as I can tell is anytime someone doesn't do exactly what they are told to do by a police officer, so long as the officer's order was "lawful." I hope that we can agree that the use of tasers on people who are complying is unacceptable. The person is either resisting or complying. If the policy means that its ok to use force whenever someone fails to comply then why not just say that? Obviously, the point of this policy is to constrain the situations in which force is used beyond those where the individual is already complying. So the fact that the individual didn't comply cannot, by itself, justify the use of tasers.

e) i see this as fine. it was continuous resistance AND the cops gave the guy verbal orders to comply and warnings

Again, the person is either resisting or complying. To me, this passage suggests considering the nature of the person's resistance rather than how consistent they are in resisting, but I agree that it could be read different ways.
11.22.2006 3:08am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tom Cross. What are the alternatives to using force?
Consider they have to be likely to be reasonably effective--no smoke&mirrors about negotiation or something--and they can't involve the cops simply going away.
11.22.2006 8:20am
Shawn-non-anonymous:
I've always viewed the police with wariness but thought there was a line where if I don't get violent they don't get violent. This was a truce of sorts. Now I come to discover that, in fact, they are perfectly justified in applying intense pain for minor offenses and my passivity is no legal barrier to their use of violence.

You can parse the situation any way you want, but in the end, the officers behaved in a manner that created outrage, deepened feelings of mistrust, and overall weakened their ability to work with their community.
11.22.2006 9:53am
Diana (mail):
"It is not about how force looks."

But of course it is. Law is meaningless and order is impossible if the people have no faith. If so much legal stipulation is required to sort out a case like this, where an unarmed, handcuffed student is tasered 6 times by police officers, just how far have we removed "justice being done" from "justice appearing to be done"? While the two are not one and the same, and police officers should not simply bend to mob rule, these defenses are so reactionary that it leads me to believe the response is unreasonable. It should not require so much legal pitterpattering to defend these actions. As somebody said previously, this incident seriously undermines LAPD/UCLA - student relations. UCLA students no longer believe that their cops are going to act reasonably, and that is a dangerous distrust. I'm not saying the student is innocent here - he was certainly a nuisance, certainly putting on a show for his peers, and certainly deserved, if nothing else, arrest for disorderly conduct halfway through. But do we really believe that is justification enough? Being a snotty, antiauthoritarian college kid is reason enough to get tasered? I can really see police relations improving in the decades to come, if things continue at this rate.
11.22.2006 10:15am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Diana. You miss the point. Or avoid it.

The question is whether it is justified/necessary to use force to get the kid to comply. The order was to walk out. He did not, would not.

Now what?

We've discussed various kinds of force, from dragging to tasers to joint-stressing.

Do you suggest that the kid should have been left there because to take him would cause the use of some kind of force?

You are avoiding the point. Being a punk isn't the reason he got tasered. Failing to comply is the reason he got tasered. The alternative was to use some other kind of force. Cops, in my view, are entitled to choose the variety of force which puts them in the least amount of danger of injury to themselves. It was the kid's choice to not comply. He does not get to insist the cops take chances they don't have to take in order to get him to comply.

IMO, this kid, like the imams in Minneapolis, was working the refs.
11.22.2006 12:17pm
Sparky:
Whit:

I agree that random ID checks after 11 p.m. *could* be constitutional.

I also agree that the presence of a sign stating, "After 11 p.m., you are subject to random ID checks," would be relevant -- although not controlling. The police could place a sign on every lamppost on Main Street stating that all persons who choose to use the sidewalk are subject to random ID checks, but that wouldn't make it so.

At the same time, so far, based on what I've heard, I don't see that it's constitutional. And my main point was that too little attention has been paid to this issue.

(I have to admit that the library could probably demand that you show a student ID at the door before entering. Random ID checks after you're inside are arguably distinguishable, but at that point, we're getting down to angels dancing on pinheads. And maybe I'm the pinhead.)
11.22.2006 12:18pm
needlesspoint:
They decided they wanted to arrest him. That's what he was resisting.
So you agree he was resisting arrest. Glad that's cleared up.
11.22.2006 12:22pm
whit:
"Your definition of "obstruction" as far as I can tell is anytime someone doesn't do exactly what they are told to do by a police officer, so long as the officer's order was "lawful.""

my definition of obstruction is what the model penal code says, and what the laws of the states i have worked in as a police officer say.

i've arrested people for obstruction, i've testified to those arrests, and I've read plenty of relevant case law on it.

the vast majority of the time (and in this case), an obstruction arrest results when somebody is given numerous chances to comply, and preferably an "if you don't do this you will get arrested" warning.

this was such a case. this guy was warned EXTENSIVELY and given ample opportunity to comply.

obstruction, as a charge, is absolutely essential for LE investigations, otherwise there is no "or else".

cops have very limited authority in oh so many ways, as to search, seizure, and with the exception of ID'ing yourself, they can't force you to say anything either (heck, in my oh so liberal state, even that is problematic).

the reality is that cops have some discretion, but you have to have a charge called obstruction, or suspects can simply do whatever they want. if cops have the right to detain, for instance pursuant to terry v. ohio, or reasonable suspicion of an infraction or whatever, and a guy insists on walking away - what;'s the charge? obstruction. etc. etc. etc.

" I hope that we can agree that the use of tasers on people who are complying is unacceptable. "

of course

"The person is either resisting or complying. If the policy means that its ok to use force whenever someone fails to comply then why not just say that?"

the point is WHAT KIND OF FORCE?

an order to comply is force. "sir, stand up". that is a use of (non-physical force). there are also physical force applications. heck, EVERY arrest is technically a use of physical force, cause you put your hands on the guy.

THe use of force must be reasonable considering the underlying offense (for example, if i have reasonable suspicion you are a bank robbery suspect, I can draw my gun and order you to prone out. i don't have PC. i only have RS. but since bank robbery is a violent crime, I am not going to just walk up to you and ask for id. otoh, if you are a suspect in obstructing and/or trespassing (like the current case. ), i would not be justified in drawing my gun. i would be justified in telling to you to step outside, in putting my hands on you to direct your movement, and in ordering you to stand up, etc.

and according to UCLA PD UOF policy, pain compliance TO INCLUDE tasers is authorized for passive resistance.

"Obviously, the point of this policy is to constrain the situations in which force is used beyond those where the individual is already complying. So the fact that the individual didn't comply cannot, by itself, justify the use of tasers. "

like all cases, it is judged by the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time he applied the force.

i've been taught (and teach others) pain compliance against passive resisters. i have not heard of an agency that specifically authorizes TASERS as a form of pain compliance for passive resisters.
11.22.2006 12:51pm
whit:
"I also agree that the presence of a sign stating, "After 11 p.m., you are subject to random ID checks," would be relevant -- although not controlling. The police could place a sign on every lamppost on Main Street stating that all persons who choose to use the sidewalk are subject to random ID checks, but that wouldn't make it so."

these situations are completely disanalogous. a sidewalk is not a place where the state (cops do not place signs on lamposts and cops are not responsible for laws and policies btw. they merely enforce them, even if they happen to disagree with them) has authority to tell people they can or can't be (except in the case of juveniles after curfew, and in my state juvenile curfews are unconstitutional but i digress) can limit people's presence.

otoh, a university library IS such a place (APPARENTLY). apparently, it is ok to limit the use of the library during certain hours ONLY to university students. assuming that policy is ok (which has been in place for years apparently unchallenged or unoverturned), then it is by extension ok for cops to make ID checks to assure that people present ARE students. the university policy is that these checks are random and not based on one's age or appearance (which is of course smart, since it eliminates claims one was profiled as a non-student based on manner of dress, age, etc. and despite absurd assumptions by some here that the cops should have assumed the guy probably WAS a student).

my point is this. - *if* it is ok to limit the use of the library to students only, it is clearly constitutional to conduct checks of ID. the policy is written especially well, in that somebody (as i understand it) CAN refuse to provide ID, but they must then leave the library. so, it is much less likely to be viewed as a privacy interest thang. you do not need to show ID, but if you are asked, and u refuse, you must leave.

in this case, the student refused to do both, and was thus lawfully detained when the police arrived, pursuant to his obstruction.

as a basic rule, if it is ok to limit presence in an area based on (age, student status, membership in a group, etc.) it is also ok for LEO's to have the authority (when acting as agents for the authority that limits access) to check to see if people are there lawfully.

the sidewalk example is completely disanalogous. it's a public place. apparently, the library after 11pm is not. it is justifiably limited to student use only, and thus is not a public place, like the sidewalk is.
11.22.2006 1:02pm