Friday, 22 December 2006

The taser and it's after-effects

I'm really not sure what to think about this issue.

An Iranian-American student from UCLA was recently asked to show his ID card to campus police as part of a 'random inspection' - well, that's what they said it was. He refused because he felt it was some form of racism - picking him out instead of someone else. When he refused, the police used a taser on him. When the first shock didn't stop him, the shocked him again. They did they several times until he was barely able to move and they were able to eject him.

My immediate thoughts were 'that's excessive force'. Repeatedly asking the guy to stand up after shocking him with electricity, when they could have just dragged him outside. Did he have a weapon? There wasn't an obvious one and I'm not sure that the officers looked. Was he physically attacking someone? No. Was he shouting? Yes Is that a reason to get shocked by a taser? No - well, not in my opinion. He wasn't a suspected terrorist or anything like that - he was just refusing to show a simple ID card.

However, after reading several news articles and comments on the articles I began to look at things from the police officers' point of view aswell. Repeatedly refusing to do what a police officer says and causing a noticeable disruption. There's also the fact that the random inspection must be some sort of university policy and there must be documentation about it somewhere that the students know about. If he had just shown his card, all this could have been avoided.

Although it's the least likely possibility, the racial angle could be true - it's difficult to prove that one though.

I guess both sides were at fault. The student was foolish for not complying with university regulations and police orders and the police officers seem to be at fault for using excessive force.

The following links are just some of the articles that I read:

Mercury News
ABC News
USA Today

I'd also be interested in other perspectives. What do you think? Do you think both sides were at fault? Were the police to blame? Was the student solely responsible? Is it too difficult to draw a conclusion?


Alfred Thompson said...

I agree that there is plenty of blame to go around. The police did seem to over react. Actually by a lot. On the other hand if one decides to make a political statement by refusing to follow a request made by people with tasers and guns and clubs they can't really be surprised when they get hurt. That doesn't make it right but it is a statement of reality. It seems like this could have been avoided by either side acting a little differently.

Wesley Mason said...

Police are there serve society, people should never forget that, and while many people today do not treat forces such as the police with the respect they deserve, such things are a two way street.

Yes, as a general university policy, the student should have been forthcoming with his ID. However, was he aware it was a policy? Ignorancy is not considered an excuse, but it should be when those in charge do not make policies widely known to the populace.

The use of a taser in any situation other than one in which the other party becomes physically hostile and/or has a weapon (possibly repeating myself there) should be absolutely and unequivicably banned.
As much as the student was at fault for not following the rules, I think the officers are far more to blame with their outlandish actions, and frankly utter disregard for the permanent physical damage they could have caused the student.

phantom said...

yes there are 2 sides its very important...
im more interested in the angle of police responsibility. did the person have a witness to back his story up.. the lack of good experienced police in australia annoys me there are many thug officers. so i am inclined to back up the citizen than the police. in this area..

milly said...

yes i agree with phantom ..
if the citizen is a thug like willy mason then yes he deserves to be tasered cos he makes excuses and a boofhead.. but if he nice like haseem el mashri then the cops need boot up bum ... cos they young stupid and have an ego.. need to be named and shamed then sacked.. but police minister wont do that he is soft..