The UCLA library incident, revisited

Many readers will recall the “TASER in the library” case at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on November 14, 2006. No, this was not the more infamous “Don’t Tase Me, Bro!” case, which occurred a few months later in Florida. But the UCLA incident had its YouTube moments and lots of controversy.

Officers used a TASER in drive-stun mode on a student who physically resisted being ejected from the library when he violated the campus rule that only students who produced identification could be in the library at night after a certain hour. Such ejections were generally routinely handled without incident, but this particular student decided to put on a show for the other students.

I’ve waited a long time to write this article, because the matter has been tied up in litigation, and I could not publicly speak about it. I was one of the use-of-force experts retained to assist UCLA and its officers in their defense of the civil lawsuit brought by student Mostafa Tabatabainejad, who actively and occasionally aggressively physically resisted the campus officers ejecting him from the library. “Now the story can be told,” as we say in Hollywood.

One of the reasons the UCLA case was so controversial was because, in response to public outcry about the incident, the campus administration brought in some folks to conduct an “outside, independent investigation.” They hired the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC), an organization that has dedicated itself to higher accountability by law enforcement.

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