It shows UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad being repeatedly tasered by UCPD police.
His offense? Here's an account of the incident from the Daily Bruin:
By this time the student had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack when an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, at which point the student told the officer to let him go. A second officer then approached the student as well.While the article mentiones the student being tasered twice, other student accounts (and the video) indicate as many as six shocks were administered.
The student began to yell "get off me," repeating himself several times.
It was at this point that the officers shot the student with a Taser for the first time, causing him to fall to the floor and cry out in pain. The student also told the officers he had a medical condition.
Video shot from a student's camera phone captured the student yelling, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your fucking abuse of power," while he struggled with the officers.
As the student was screaming, UCPD officers repeatedly told him to stand up and said "stop fighting us." The student did not stand up as the officers requested and they shot him with the Taser at least once more.
"It was the most disgusting and vile act I had ever seen in my life," said David Remesnitsky, a 2006 UCLA alumnus who witnessed the incident.
As the student and the officers were struggling, bystanders repeatedly asked the police officers to stop, and at one point officers told the gathered crowd to stand back and threatened to use a Taser on anyone who got too close.
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.
[Emphasis added courtesy of Pam's House Blend]
According to a later article in the Daily Bruin, Tabatabainejad was also stunned with the Taser when he was already handcuffed.
Also from the Daily Bruin:
But according to a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001, a charge of three to five seconds can result in immobilization for five to 15 minutes, which would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so.The officers claimed that Tabatabainejad deserved the shocks because
"It is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some benign thing that painlessly brings people under control," said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of Southern California.
"The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in death," Eliasberg said.
According to an ACLU report, 148 people in the United States and Canada have died as a result of the use of Tasers since 1999.
During the altercation between Tabatabainejad and the officers, bystanders can be heard in the video repeatedly asking the officers to stop and requesting their names and identification numbers. The video showed one officer responding to a student by threatening that the student would "get Tased too." At this point, the officer was still holding a Taser.
Such a threat of the use of force by a law enforcement officer in response to a request for a badge number is an "illegal assault," Eliasberg said.
"It is absolutely illegal to threaten anyone who asks for a badge â€" that's assault," he said.
Tabatabainejad was released from custody after being given a citation for obstruction/delay of a peace officer in the performance of duty.
There is no evidence of the student encouraging resistance by others on the six minute tape. Eyewitness accounts said that Tabatabainejad repeatedly told officers "I'm not fighting you" and "I said I would leave" as he was being dragged out. They also note that at the beginning of the conflict, he had already logged off the computer, grabbed his backpack and was headed towards the door.
If I understand the officers explanation correctly, it would have been perfectly OK to Taser Gandhi, civil rights lunch counter protestors, or anyone else who display civil disobediance by going limp.
It's a nice world we live in.