Even with use of force policies that are “unduly permissive,” a UCLA police officer violated department rules when he repeatedly shocked a student with an electric Taser gun last fall during a confrontation captured on video and posted on the Internet, according to a report released Wednesday.
Los Angeles police accountability expert Merrick Bobb found that the decision to use the Taser on student Mostafa Tabatabainejad was “unnecessary, avoidable and excessive.”
The findings are at odds with an earlier inquiry by UCLA Police Chief Karl Ross, who cleared Officer Terrence Duren and two colleagues of any wrongdoing.
Tabatabainejad, then a 23-year-old senior at UCLA, was in the campus library one night last November when a security guard asked him to provide identification during a routine check to make sure everyone in the library after 11 p.m. was a student or otherwise authorized to be there.
Tabatabainejad, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, refused repeated requests to provide his identification, explaining later that he thought he was being singled out because of his Middle Eastern appearance.
In an ensuing confrontation with university police, Tabatabainejad was shocked at least three times with a Taser when he failed to get on his feet and walk out of the library as officers demanded.
Much of the encounter was captured by students with cellphones or digital cameras. Some of the footage was posted on http://www.YouTube.comand drew viewers from around the world. After student protests, a flood of angry e-mails and calls from concerned parents, then-Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams asked Bobb to conduct an independent review.