Thursday, September 20, 2007

Unruly college student meets the Taser

Well, I'm sure we've all at least heard about that poor innocent 21-year old college student who got introduced to a police taser the hard way. I also know that many of us have viewed the various videos of this incident. One article I read said that as of Tuesday afternoon the videos of the arrest had been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube.

Monday's incident started when the University of Florida student refused to leave the microphone after his allotted time was up. Most of the original videos that were shown only showed the confrontation with the campus police and not what led up to it. But, on the web site there are two (2) different videos, taken from different angels. One of these two videos even shows Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) on stage as he calls on the student in question. But, instead of asking a specific question, the student makes a speech and he even recommends a book that Kerry should read. Kerry says he has. This is when the campus police officers first try to talk with him.

You can't really hear or see what the officers are saying, but it seems they are telling the student to either ask a specific question, or telling him that his time is up. Instead of being co-operative he is rude, obnoxious and confrontational. It is obvious he could care less what the officers have to say. They are bothering him and they are interfering with his own personal agenda. "I'll ask my question!" the student says forcefully, apparently not intending to be denied this moment in the spotlight. He pretty much just dismisses them and it seemed very apparent to me, from watching this video, that this student has absolutely no respect at all for the police.

Shortly before the microphone is cut off, the student says something like, "I'm gonna inform people and then I'm gonna ask you my question." Kerry can be heard in the background, but I'm not sure what he's saying. He may have asked the student to go ahead and ask his question. When the officers apparently try to intervene again, he says something like, "I'm not even done yet and I have two more questions." Shortly after this is when he asks Kerry about the secret organization at Yale (Skull and Bones) and did he and President Bush belong to it. The microphone cuts off shortly after that.

The student is clearly agitated that the microphone has been turned off and he obviously blames the police. I'd bet money the police officers didn't cut it off themselves and someone with the event probably did. Maybe the Tech-guy. "Thank you for cutting my mike. Thank you," he says disgustedly at the officers. They try to escort him away from the area and that's when he really becomes unruly. At one point the audience applauds, but we don't know if this is because of a remark Kerry has just made, or because the officers were taking this disruptive and disorderly individual away. Or, maybe they were applauding the actions of the student and letting him know they were behind him. We don't know. For the most part, the audience just sat there and watched the incident in silence. The only person really heard is the disorderly student as he yelled at the officers, and the crowd too.

At one point in the altercation, in the main audience area near the microphone stand, one officer is standing there and pointing what looks like a Taser at the student, while other officers are trying to control him. I think it's important to note, I don't believe they used the Taser then, and they were able to remove him from the audience area to the back lobby area by physical force alone. This shows me that the officers didn't want to use a Taser if they didn't have to.

It took up to four officers to remove the student from the main audience area to the back lobby-like area. As he was being pushed backwards he continued to scream for help as he tried to break away from the officers. His arms were flailing at them and I wouldn't be surprised if one or two of them had been struck by the student. As the officers tried to force him to the floor so they could handcuff him, they ordered him to stop resisting.

At the back of the audience area the student momentarily breaks away from the officers trying to control him and he backs up away from them and he even seems to take up a fighting stance. He also yells angrily, "Get away from me man! Get away from me!" I'm sure the officers felt that he was going to continue to struggle and he may even attack them with his fists and/or legs. He almost looked as if he was ready to kick out at the officers, but then they quickly took him down to the floor. On the floor, as the officers tried to handcuff him, he yelled, "Get off of me!" It wasn't until the student was on the floor, still struggling to get free, that they used the Taser. And, I believe they verbally warned him that if he didn't stop his resisting, they would do this.

Was this an unnecessary and/or an excessive use of force? To be honest, I don't know. There is no doubt in my mind that the subject was fighting the officers and resisting arrest. No doubt! I have been, and most officers have been too, in numerous incidents just like this. Years ago, before we had Tasers, we had Mace. So, in a similar incident years ago, would I have used Mace? Maybe. The only reason I might not would have been my concern for the crowd, and how the Mace might effect them. But, with a Taser, you don't have those same concerns. It's a one-on-one weapon. And, that's why they give nightsticks, Mace, and yes, even Tasers, to police officers. When an individual resists arrest an officer can use whatever force he needs to overcome that resistance. If the individual increases his resisting, then the officer increases the level of force he needs to use.

But, was the use of a Taser in this instance, when the subject was on the floor, with 3-4 officers trying to control him, and HIM still struggling to get free, was the use of the Taser justified? Could be. The college, the police department and F.D.L.E. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) will all look at this incident and investigate it. I would suggest before anyone rushes to judgment, they give these reviews a chance. I looked at a number of different videos and each showed me something different. On one video it even sounds like, just before the microphone is turned off, that the student said the word "Blowjob." Did he? Is that why the mike was turned off, because he used profanity? I don't know, but it sure sounded like he said that Clinton got impeached for a "Blowjob." He was asking Kerry why he wouldn't impeach President Bush. I looked at a few of the other videos and I didn't hear this offensive word. Maybe the offending word was deleted before the video was turned over to the media. That's one possibility. A review of all available video should be done and this will, and should, take some time.

I listened to the Sean Hannity radio show today and he was very pro-police and his opinions and comments very much mirrored my own. All this student had to do, to avoid the incident he caused, was to obey the rules and when his time at the microphone was up, his time was up! What made HIM so special that he could stay there at the microphone and continue to make a speech and monopolize Senator Kerry's time? After all, the audience didn't come to hear the student spout off, they came to hear John Kerry. As usual, I wasn't disappointed by Sean Hannity's insightful reasoning and his good common sense logic. I am still a fan!

But then, later today I stumbled upon the Michael Savage radio program and I was really appalled by some of his harsh criticism. In fact, I couldn't believe some of the things he said. And, in addition to him personally verbally attacking these campus police officers from the University of Florida, when a caller called in and tried to defend them, Mr. Savage verbally attacked the caller. Perhaps what bothered me the most about Mr. Savage's tirade was the fact he was so wrong in some of the things he said. He said the officers involved in this incident with the student were not really certified police officers and I think he even referred to them as rent-a-cops. Well, the University of Florida has its own nationally accredited law enforcement department and all they do is protect and serve the University. Yes, Mr. Savage, they are real cops and according to the department's web site there are approximately 89 of them. If you're going to state something as fact, how about first getting your facts straight?

I went to the web site of Mr. Savage, hoping to send him an e-mail telling him how wrong he was about the rent-a-cops he had verbally attacked. Well, on his web site I found the following disgusting and offensive title:


Wow! Like I said, I'm still a huge fan of Sean Hannity. What about Michael Savage and the Savage Nation? Will I ever listen to him again? What do you think?

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