September 30, 2020

Police cross the line as UCLA student is Tasered

On Nov. 14, an Iranian-American student by the name of Mostafa Tabatabainejad, 23, was repeatedly Tasered at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) library after he refused to show identification to the attending security workers, who check ID cards randomly after 11 p.m.

When Tabatabainejad refused, he was told that he had to leave. According to the statement from the UCLA Police Department, the security worker left and came back with UCPD officers, at which time the student was asked to leave “multiple times.”

“He continued to refuse,” the statement said. “As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building.”

However, this may not be true. Witnesses say that at this point, Tabatabainejad had his backpack and he was already trying to leave the building. An officer grabbed his arm as he was leaving to which Tabatabainejad yelled, “Get off of me” repeatedly.

The statement proceeded to say, “Tabatabainejad encouraged library patrons to join his resistance . the officers deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a ‘drive stun’ capacity.” A drive stun simply means that the subject was not shot with the Taser; rather, it was pressed up against his skin directly.

Another witness, David Remesnitsky from Los Angeles, said, “By the end they took him over the stairs, lifted him up and Tasered him on his rear end. It seemed like it was inappropriately placed. The Tasering was so unnecessary and they just kept doing it.”

The police on campus verified that Tabatabainejad was indeed Tasered numerous times. Tabatabainejad was then arrested on the same night for resisting and obstruction and was later released with an appointed court date.

What were the bystanders and witnesses doing at this time, you might ask? According to the Daily Bruin, the UCLA campus newspaper, “Laila Gordy, a fourth-year economics student who was present in the library during the incident, said police officers threatened to shoot her with a Taser when she asked an officer for his name and his badge number.”

There may be many people, including me, who might wonder why Tabatabainejad didn’t just show his identification or leave when he was asked.

At this point, however, it doesn’t seem to matter because the reaction of the police was completely out of proportion. The UCLA police should have simply escorted Tabatabainejad out of the building.

Terrence Duren, the offending officer in this case, had been fired from his job as a Long Beach police officer for “poor report-writing skills and geographical knowledge,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Though Duren was named officer of the year in 2001 for the UCLA police force, he has been involved in several unsettling incidents. In May 1990, Duren was accused of choking someone with a nightstick, and in 2003 Duren shot a homeless man, who was said to be mentally ill, after encountering him in a dorm.

I, like many others, was thoroughly disgusted upon reading this and watching the wretched video. My first thought upon reading was racial profiling. How else can this be explained?

To my knowledge and understanding, a Taser gun momentarily stuns a person and renders them immobile for at least a few minutes. In the video, the cops repeatedly say “stand up, stand up” after Tasering him, which was what confused and angered me the most.

During this violence, Tabatabainejad was quoted saying, “Here’s your Patriot Act, here’s your fucking abuse of power.”


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