UCLA Cops Taser Student Who Refuses to Show ID

Thanks to BoingBoing for picking up a story about some UCLA police officers who not only Tasered a student who refused to show ID, but threatened to Taser another student who tried to hold one of the officers accountable:

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.

Yeah, I just love that we now live in a country where the police feel like they’re allowed to Taser you for not showing your “papers.” I know there was a court case about that topic recently, but I can’t find anything about it. Anybody got a pointer?

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment from Christopher Penn, here’s video of the incident. Does anybody else think that Tasering somebody into standing up is probably not the most effective approach?

26 thoughts on “UCLA Cops Taser Student Who Refuses to Show ID”

  1. The interim chancellor at UCLA is Norman Abrams and his phone number is 310-825-2151 if you’d like to share an opinion with the university on what took place. They have someone there to hear and log every comment.

    This is some really disturbing stuff…

  2. This isn’t the first time students have had issues with UCPD.

    One of the things that the UCPD claims is that they have to keep the safety of students in mind who are studying late at night in Powell library. The student who was there was using a computer in the CLICC lab available only to students with a Bruin Online ID.

    UCPD was totally wrong on this, but there’s at least one student who doesn’t think so.

  3. My UCLA friend wrote the following:

    “german TA is leading us all to a rally tomorrow instead of class. if anything, maybe this will finally incite some activism on campus, since – in the 5 hours i’ve been at school, i’ve heard everyone talking about it. kinda fucked-up-exciting, no?

    trigger-happy, fear-based, (racist?…sure) figures with false authority (and weapons)? = UCPD

    and here i thought we were screwed when it was just the neo-minute-men border patrol. fuuuuuuckin’ a.”

  4. Nass’s response seems reasonable on the surface, I don’t think he’s being very honest with the story. For one, he writes that the victim refused to show ID and then refused to leave. However, according the original article (and according to what the victim says in the video), he was trying to leave and the UCPD officers stopped him. Nass also raises the spectre of guns and biochemical agents out of nowhere which is a pretty silly attempt at misdirection.

    He also writes something else that’s interesting, and I think is at the core of a lot of these controversies:

    As a community, we should be concerned when suspicious individuals on our campus refuse to present identification to someone whose job it is to ensure our safety.

    Perhaps we should be concerned, but who decides what makes an individual suspicious in the first place? There were no reports that the victim was acting suspiciously, just that he didn’t produce an ID when asked and as far as I know there is still no legal requirement to show ID upon demand. Nass is assigning suspiciousness in hindsight.

    And regardless of all of that, the question is what are UCPD’s guidelines for using a Taser on a suspect? Even if UCPD had every right to detain and/or arrest the victim, I seriously doubt he was exhibiting any behavior that suggest he needed to be Tasered.

  5. This is one of the main problems with “non-lethal” weapons. They get overused. Tasers are promoted as a “non-lethal” way to disable an aggressor. But they end up being used to coerce people into cooperating with the authorities, even when the person isn’t a threat (or while in custody, as is the case here).

    I’ll never forget the journalists and others who were shot with “rubber bullets” at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles a few years ago, not because they were threatening anybody, but because they weren’t dispersing quickly enough.

  6. scott nass is exactly the kind of dumbass responsible for the last 6 years of BushCo. and just think, you’re going to be calling him “doctor” in a few years? here’s to hoping he fails out.

  7. This makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. To sit here at work and feel so helpless while someone is crying out in pain like that…and for what? This is needless violence used for a very simple situation. Horrifying.

  8. All i have to say is fuck LAPD, they over abuse their power . They swear that their better than regular people and all these idiots belive it. FUCK ‘EM.

  9. Absolutely sickening. Though I do think it’s important to distinguish that this is not the LAPD. It is UCLA Campus Cops.

  10. Spencer- Here is a link to the story of Dudley Hiibel, who was arrested in May 2000 for refusing to present identification to police when asked. Case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

    …and the bad guys won.


    But it is important to note that in the Hiibel case the police at least had a slim reason to believe he might have commited a crime. I don’t see how this applies in the UCLA tassering. (Trespassing ?)

    Chalk it up to “Barnie Fife Syndrom”. Give a little man a little power and watch it go to his head.

    But its all going to be a mute point soon. Remember when you got your California drivers license and you had to give a thumb print? Just the start of the slippery slope. Biometric id will make it impossible to remain anonymous.

  11. Well that’s the thing about Tasers, because they are classified as “non-lethal” they often get used much more than a “lethal” alternative would. Except there are tons of cases where tasers did prove to be lethal. It’s definitely a tricky situation with those things.

  12. Thanks, Bawanastar. That’s the case I was thinking of. Couldn’t remember how it turned out. Here’s the part I was thinking about, for anybody that’s not clicking through:

    “The Hiibel case does not compel a person to show identification to a police officer upon demand. As of 2005, Americans are not compelled to carry identification (unless they are driving a car or performing another action that requires a license in that state).

    The Hiibel case does not create a federal law that requires a person to give his or her name to a police officer upon request; it merely rules that states may issue such a law, and such a law is not unconstitutional. If a state does not have such a law, then people in that state are not required to give their names.

    The Hiibel case only applies when a person is detained due to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. If no such reasonable suspicion exists, the person is not required to provide his or her name.”

  13. I saw the video. How many times the police told the guy to “Get up”??? Please count and explain this guy’s actions and how he just “couldn’t get up”.

    You simply can’t. But even take a step further: How did it escalate to the point of trouble?

    Any intelligent person at the first sign of trouble would think: “I’m caught. No ID. Leave now.” It’s over. End of story.

    There were choices for that student to make at that point. The best choice? Leave quickly and quietly.

    But no.

    It had to escalate.

    And when it did, he should have known that (1) I’m making a fool out of myself, (2) I’m disturbing the other patrons in the library right now (for whatever reason), (3) These people (police) are serious, I better cooperate and leave now.

    Nobody can justify why this guy started this trouble. Immaturity, spoiled nature, pride, ego. For WHATEVER reason, he felt he should stay. He just HAD to be in that library. And he couldn’t leave quickly when he was told to.

    It was his fault. That’s where this whole story begins and ends.

  14. Please count and explain this guy’s actions and how he just “couldn’t get up”.

    Hmmmm….let me think….how about because he was being repeatedly Tasered? It’s not like sticking 9-volt on your tongue. If you think somebody’s going to zap you with a Taser and you’re going to shake it off and stand up like nothing ever happened, you’re in for quite a shock. (Har har. I kill me.)

    Also, you seem to be glossing over the fact that he was on his way out of the library when the police stopped him. He didn’t get “caught” doing anything. He was a student in a student computer lab who didn’t have an ID. They asked him to leave because he didn’t produce it upon demand. Regardless of how quickly he did it, he still got up and left. Or tried to, except the police stopped him.

    But regardless of whether the UCPD were within their rights to detain him or not (and I don’t necessarily think they weren’t, whether or not I like it), you actually believe that he was so out of control that the only way to handle him was to hit him with a Taser? If that’s the case, I think the UCPD needs to reasses their suspect control training.

  15. From what I understand, they were using the taser in “drive-stun” mode, which doesn’t entail shooting the barbs into you like you see in the YouTube videos. The front of the taser is placed directly against the skin, it only causes pain on that direct area, and it’s not enough to paralyze somebody or cause lasting damage. It’s used as incentive, not containment. If he had enough energy to scream about the Patriot Act, he had enough energy to either stand up or tell them he couldn’t.

    “Also, you seem to be glossing over the fact that he was on his way out of the library when the police stopped him. He didn’t get ‘caught’ doing anything. He was a student in a student computer lab who didn’t have an ID. They asked him to leave because he didn’t produce it upon demand. Regardless of how quickly he did it, he still got up and left. Or tried to, except the police stopped him.”

    …after the student checking IDs asked him several times to leave, he refused, and he waited around for the police to arrive. By the time the cops get there, you’re past the point where they’re just going to let you leave without explaining the problem. Or, if you want, throwing a fit and making them use force on you.

  16. Ok Morons,

    Let’s see:

    The guy was asked for I.D. by police patrolling the library late at night to make sure he is a student and belongs there.

    The guy says he doesn’t have I.D.

    The guy is asked to leave because he doesn’t have I.D.

    The guy refuses to leave.

    The guy starts screaming out that he is being profiled and tries to start a riot with other students.

    The police taser his stupid ass for being beligerent while they are trying to do their job of maintaining security on campus.

    The guy is arab. (too bad)

    Why don’t you people wake up and smell the coffee and take a look around. Look at your country. That is if you are actually citizens of this country.

    I prefer not to be in large building with muslims who are refusing to comply with the police. It would tend to make me a bit uneasy. If this jack ass wins any money in court, you can bet it will send a bad message to police. It will basically tell them not to bother helping anybody because they might get in trouble. It may also place the an officer’s life in jeopardy. An officer may hesitate to draw his taser or weapon because he fears the outcome by idiots like these UCLA students, and his job security. This in turn could get him shot by somebody because of his hesitation. If this moron student had raped a woman or blown up the building, then everybody would be crying about the fact that the security was too weak. I hope this case doesn’t even get heard in court. If it does, it really puts our personal security in question.

  17. Until this country realizes that police are NOTHING more than people too.. ( And I do not mean that as the old “xxxx are people too express” – then this country is going to continue a spiral downward into a 3rd world country of dictatorship where the government *owns* the country and we are basically a guest in our own country. Also, we’ll end up like some countries were we are told it is a “privilege” to be alive, not a right. Places where the government/military comes in a completely assassinates teens with tanks and machine guns ( China a few years ago ) for stating there beliefs and loss of freedom of speech becomes fact. While I realize freedom of speech has nothing to do with this student being my point is this country’s government systems claims to have a bleeding heart for countries that do not have a democracy. It’s to my understanding that a democracy is a country where the government OF the people BY the people. But HOW can you believe this when the government “HIRED” people are no longer able to even be perceived as a citizen. Where anyone hired in an authoritative position is not to be EVER contradicted. Where everyone thinks there is no one or even a scientific possibility that anyone in a government-such position could be wrong or even be able to commit a crime. Yet we see i every single day thats somewhere in the USA lawyers, police officers, even mayors, ect committing murders, rapes, and various crimes “off the clock” – YET, still again our minds are so brain-washed that these factors are eliminated when it comes down to “thinking about” – who’s right,, Uncle Sam, or the Civilian? Our minds automatically think don’t question the government, they are always right. They are to be thought of as a GODLY all knowing, never wrong figure. But yet it is still ran by typical people. But because they are “HIRED” by the government such figures suddenly become “all devine and all knowing” OH wait? I thought this was a Democracy? Of the people by the people.. Well,,, HELLO??

  18. Is this guy Scott Nass the only student at UCLA who actually has a brain capable of logically seeing what happened here with this moron who got tasered?

  19. If ANY person on ANY school/university campus cannot & will not provide proof of ID when asked the authorities should you any and all means necessary to remove them. This is for everyones safety, geez! Yes, this student probably didn’t/wasn’t doing anything illegal but you have to admit that when asked for ID his reaction was, at the least, suspicious. And what if he had been there doing something wrong? Terrorist act, rape, murder, molestation, WHATEVER! You’d all be calling for the AUTHORITIES HEADS and you know you would. “Oh, woe is me, why didn’t someone check his ID and how could he be in our midst? This is suppose to be a safe environment for our kids to be educated; how could this happen???

    Oh, woe is me!!” I don’t care if you are white, black, male, female, muslim, christian, or jew; you can’t prove you have a right to be on a school grounds of any kind and you won’t leave when asked, the authorities should use any method needed to remove you! PERIOD! Quit your whining!

  20. yes the student was obviously wrong for not leaving and for making a fool of himself ranting on… but i dont see how anyone can defend the police for tasering him while he was in handcuffs. pick him up and carry him out as he screams like an idiot… fine. stand over him and shock over and over for no reason… not fine.

    ive seen 4 officers carry a 300 pound women out of her apartment. similar situation. she was screaming like crazy and resisting. they handcuffed her hands and feet and walked out each one holding an arm or leg pretty easily. you only catch a brif glimpse of the kid here but he doesnt look very big.

    the police only added to the spectacle and danger of the situation. all you needed was for 1 of the spectators to decide to interfere and it would have provoked alot more.

  21. He got juiced for being an idiot. He was asked to leave and he refused. You don’t get a cookie for failure to comply.

  22. I can’t believe how many people think everything the cops did was right and that this guy wasn’t treated unjustly at all. People are sick and then they become cops. No one wants to be a cop, the pay is shitty, you deal with scum bags, and your lifes in danger all the time. Having said that who becomes a cop? Well, I’m sorry to say, but all the retards and drop outs and people that got picked on when they were younger. So tell me these people are the smartest around and that they do everything right and I’ll just stop my legal practice and find other work, because right now all these stupid cops are making me a millionaire.

    -criminal defense attorney

  23. You get a cookie for failure to comply when cops use excessive force. Strangely enough this happens all the time. Police Departments are giving out more cookies then they can bake these days!

    -cookie crook

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