Wednesday, November 22, 2006

UCLA Taser Incident

I weigh in on the controversy at FrontPage Mag.

My friend, a UCLA law student, has a different take on the event:

Aaron: do you think it is appropriate for campus police to use a taser on a student who is refusing to walk out of a library? Yes, I and any right thinking person would have complied with police orders without argument. That is the self-preserving position to take. But the point is, police are paid to deal with situations professionaly and competently, not just by imposing maximum force. There is a public relations element to law enforcement, in that you want the community to trust you. So when police do things like this, it makes people trust them less, which is bad for everybody. If the student were a threat in any way to the police or bystanders, appropriate force should have been used. But nobody is even alleging that he did anything remotely threatening...They should have carried him out. If he fought them, they could have escalated their force with a control hold or hogtied him. It was five or six against one. Shouldn't have been a problem. Doesn't that seem like a reasonable way to handle it? I don't understand why you keep coming back to what the student was doing. I've already said I agree with you he was being a jackass. If you are saying he was posing a threat, not even the campus police have alleged that. They say he was passively resisting, by yelling and refusing to walk out of the library. LAPD policy allows for taser use when an officer feels physically threatened or thinks that a third party is in danger. I don't have a problem with that, assuming a reasonable interpretation of threat and danger. UCLA apparently allows taser use for non-compliance. I totally disagree with that. I think it's too much force when no force is needed. Are you saying that you approve of the taser because the kid had it coming? It sort of sounds that way. If so, I don't agree with that, because our legal system has a more formal way of punishing those who break the law. As for your hypothetical of the person running from police, what does his race have to do with it? Are you saying there should be different rules for different races? That would be illegal, but also, I think, bad policy. If you're asking would a taser be appropriate on a fleeing suspect, it all depends on the facts and circumstances. Is he a wanted murder suspect? Or just some guy who took off when he saw the cops? That makes a difference.


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