I had only heard a little bit about the UCLA Tazer incident... Student fails to produce ID, gets Tazed.
At first I was pretty ready to defend the police, b/c, as a former resident assistant in a dorm, I'm a big believer in strict security regulations on campuses concerning who should be there and who shouldn't. I remember when Fordham students used to complain when security guards wouldn't let them into dorms they didn't belong in late at night, particularly after they were out drinking. Some of the altercations definitely got pretty heated, but usually, the security guards stood pretty firm.
To the students, it was an annoyance... but I also saw the other side of it. What if you let one someone slip by and someone gets beat up or raped? Now you wish the security wasn't so lax.
But then I saw the video on YouTube... it's pretty disturbing.
It made me stop and think. Video is a powerful medium, but it's also a bit misleading. We only see the Tazer incident. We never saw the kid being asked to leave before the cops came or how he acted that made someone at the library call the cops.
It's hard not to have an emotional reaction to this. The kid is yelling and screaming in agony and you immediately have a sympathetic reaction to him.
But then I thought about what he was screaming... "Here's your Patriot Act..." Lots of political messages.... I dunno... me personally, I think I'd just be crying my eyes out from the pain. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be making it into a political issue on the spot. To me, here's a guy with a bone to pick with authority.
Ever got stopped by a cop? Most of us are usually a little bit nervous. I got stopped in September for allegedly doing (I hate to admit how lame this is, b/c I drive a Mustang with 300HP)... 49 in a 30. (go ahead, giggle) But yeah, I was nervous. The LAST thing I was going to do would be to give the cop a hard time and not show my ID. I listened carefully and complied. I did not get Tazed. That's the way most of us act.
Let's say this kid is there up to no good. Let's say he's a kid with a history of violence who has been banned from campus who is there to mess with someone... if you're a cop... you just don't know without an ID. When someone starts resisting, you get suspicious.
So, I have to be honest, I think I'm ok with the initial Tazing. If you are somewhere that requires ID, you don't show it, and you do not leave upon immediately being asked to, in today's world, I think you're really rolling the dice. With all the school shootings and terrorism we have to live with, I think that's just common sense, really. So, cops, if I'm somewhere I shouldn't be, and I don't listen to you when you ask for me ID, please Taze me.
And yes, Tazing seems violent, but what are the alternatives? Should the cops have hit him? Pointed a gun? How do you get someone who is resisting to leave? Should they dress up in those goofy Sumo suits and belly bounce him out the door?
That being said, I think the cops definitely got trigger happy. Unless this kid was on steroids, I tend to think that one Taze should do it... and I'm not surprised he couldn't stand up. That's like kicking them in the shins and threatening to kick them again if they won't stand up. When you Taze someone, you should be able to yank them out right away and arrest them or kick them out of wherever they are or do what you need to do. Threatening to Taze them again or threatening to Taze others isn't the right way to do it. You Taze when you need to, not as part of a "negotiation".
So, at the end of the day, I think this was a kid with an obvious bone to pick that acted in a way that got him on the wrong side of the law. Add that to some Tazer happy cops who don't know the appropriate use of a dangerous weapon, mix in some YouTube, and you've got yourselves a mess.
The student should be suspended and so should the cops. If I were this kid's parents, I'd be pissed at the police for not training their officers properly but also pissed at my kid for not listening to authorities from the start.