UCLA Police Use Stun Gun on Student

I just saw this video from a link on slashdot. I cannot believe this happened in America. A UCLA student was tased by UCLA police five times when he failed to present his student ID at the library and then failed to leave soon enough. I cringed, thinking, “could this happen to me? Or to my children?”

Tell your friends about this. Blog about it, whatever. Get the word out. Thank you.

A police officer saw the film and had a lot to say about it. Here are beginning of his comments:

As a police officer, I have two things to say about this:

1) This kid sounds like an a** and I’m certain that there will be more than enough “He got what he deserved posts.” I might even agree in the moral sense, but not in the ethical or legal sense, because….

2) This cop should never work in law enforcement again. This is inappropriate use of force by any professional standard. One post is not nearly enough to recount the things he did incorrectly, but I’ll hit the high points;

General rules for any controlled encounter (one where you aren’t in danger from the get go) include finding out what the issue is, telling the subject what he/she needs to do, and explaining what will happen if they do not. There is almost never a need to place your hands on anyone for any reason until you are ready to take them into custody unless you are suddenly attacked. This “officer” is grossly incompetent. Understand we deal with aggressive people that posture by yelling and swearing at us all the time – this should not disrupt the officer on bit. Keep. Your. Cool. So, screaming/swearing or not, this encounter should have been over with three sentences from the officer.

A) “Sir, per university rules and regs, I need you to show me your valid student ID or leave the library.”
B) “I need to to show me your valid student ID or leave the library right now, or I’ll have to take you into custody for trespassing and disturbing the peace.”
C) “Sir, I am placing you under arrest.” Then Mirandize him and be done with it. If he does anything but exactly what you tell him (“Sir, place your hands behind your back.”) then….

Now and only now, if he/she resists (NOT if he simply fails to cooperate i.e. passive resistence), you may use force sufficient to subdue him to the point of having him cease to be a danger to the officer or bystanders. That’s pretty simple stuff, folks. Basically, never be the first to use force, but when you do – do it quickly and overwhelmingly then STOP when he’s restrained. You are a trained professional who owns the situation and NOT a street brawler.

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One comment on “UCLA Police Use Stun Gun on Student

  1. Brian says:

    Sorry, James, but I think you (and everybody else, for that matter) are overreacting a bit.
    First of all, you should probably mention that this guy who posted on Slashdot says he is police officer–he probably is, but we have no proof of that, so I can’t take his word as law no matter how reasonable it sounds.

    Second, I disagree with the poster’s statement that “this encounter should have been over with three sentences from the officer.” Those “three sentences” could all have happened before the video started, for all we know (maybe I missed something, however). This kid wasn’t resisting because the cops weren’t following proper procedure, he would have done that anyway! Talking to this kid didn’t do a darn thing. I only watched the video once, but I didn’t notice the officers arguing with him much. They pretty much ignored what he said and told him what to do (he wouldn’t do it) and what would happen if he didn’t.

    As for your thought: “could this happen to me? Or to my children?”, I don’t think there is much chance of that. People who mess with law enforcement are going to get burned. I admit, the officers in this situation seemed to have gone overboard (I only say “seemed to” because I don’t know what their actual procedures are–I personally think they probably did). You’ll always be in danger of dirty cops, but no more than you are in danger of any other thug who tries to take your rights away (or money, etc.). Any half-decent cop won’t harm you in any way if you don’t give them a reason to. I’m just saying don’t jump to judgment too quickly against police officers–they take enough crap as it is.

    I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but just listening to that kid made me want to tase him myself. Didn’t you?

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