Tuesday, March 28

[Online Exclusive]: Student to file suit against UCPD


RELATED STORY: UCLA community gathers to protest Taser incident, campus violence

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Mostafa Tabatabainejad, who was stunned several times with a
Taser in Powell Library Tuesday, plans to file a lawsuit against
university police alleging "brutal excessive force" and false
arrest, his lawyer said Friday.

Tabatabainejad, a fourth-year Middle Eastern and North African
studies and philosophy student, was hit with a Taser after failing
to present identification and after he did not leave the premises
promptly after being asked to do so, according to police and
eye-witness reports.

Stephen Yagman, the civil rights attorney Tabatabainejad has
hired to handle his case, said Tabatabainejad was stunned five
times with the Taser before being handcuffed and taken into
custody.

Yagman said Tabatabainejad was asked to show his BruinCard, and
did not do so because, as an U.S.-born student of Iranian descent,
he believed he was being singled out in an incident of racial
profiling. Yagman said that to his knowledge his client was the
only person who was asked to show ID.

The university has said the check was routine and such
procedures include a check of everyone present.

The 23-year-old student had begun to leave the room at around
11:30 p.m. Tuesday when he was approached by the police, Yagman
said.

“Our client (was) … already on his way out,” the
attorney said.

As Tabatabainejad was leaving the room, he was approached by two
officers, one of whom grabbed the student”s arm. When
officers did not let go of his arm, Tabatabainejad fell limp to the
floor, Yagman said.

According to a UCPD press release, at this point Tabatabainejad
was found to be uncooperative and resisting the officers who then
deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a “drive stun”
capacity.

Yagman said the case was an incident of police brutality, which
he described as “the use of great force against somebody who
posed no threat.”

Interim Chancellor Norman Abrams released a second statement
Friday morning, but the university has not yet commented on the
lawsuit, as it has not yet been filed. Neither the administration
nor UCPD have commented further on the specifics of the
incident.

“Since the incident, I have been in close contact with the
chief of police and have asked that the investigation into the
actions of all involved move at the quickest pace possible without
sacrificing fairness,” Abrams said in the statement.

But Abrams also warned against jumping to any conclusions about
the incident.

“I too have watched the videos and I do not believe that
one can make a fair judgment regarding the matter from the videos
alone,” he said.

About 400 students rallied on campus today at noon, and then
marched to the UCPD station.

When they reached the station, UCPD officers closed down the
station, locking the doors, turning off the lights, and dressing in
riot gear.

Berky Nelson, director of the Center for Student Programming,
announced at 1:40 p.m. that three students had met with UCPD
officers and issued demands regarding the investigation of the
incident. The students” requests included student input in
the investigation process and the temporary suspension of the
police officers involved in the incident.

Nelson said the UCPD was going to meet with the chancellor to
discuss the students” requests.

Yagman said lawsuits of this nature typically take a few years,
but he said he believes the case will be successful in
Tabatabainejad”s favor.

“My expectation is that the brutal officers will be
brought to justice,” he said.

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