The video of the incident :
Student to file suit against UCPD

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.


UCLA community gathers to protest Taser incident, campus violence
Meyerhoff Park was electric Friday afternoon when more than 400 students, faculty, staff, parents and community members gathered to protest the use of a Taser multiple times on a UCLA student in Powell Library on Tuesday night.

Student leaders stood on the steps of Kerckhoff Hall, leading the crowd in chants that included "One, two, three, don't Taser me," and "U-C-P-D, you disgust me." After about an hour, students began marching to the university police station, where about 200 students gathered in front of the building.

More than 50 student organizations sponsored the rally, during which students demanded that an independent investigation be conducted into the officers' actions.

According to a statement released Wednesday by UCPD, the incident in which Mostafa Tabatabainejad was stunned with a Taser several times for failing to produce his BruinCard or leave the library upon request is currently under internal review.

But students at the rally said they wanted an additional investigation to be conducted by an outside organization, adding that they wanted students to be involved with the investigation as well.

"The chancellor should appoint students who will be able to make sure the investigation is transparent," said Combiz Abdolrahimi, chairman of the National Iranian-American Council at UCLA, which helped organize the event. "We're also calling for a temporary suspension of the officers."

Affad Shaikh, civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also demanded to be provided with UCPD's policies governing the use of Taser guns.

ANDREW HSIEH/Daily Bruin Senior Staff

Interim Chancellor Norman Abrams (right) and Police Chief Karl Ross hold a joint press conference to announce there will be an independent investigation into the Powell Library incident.

"Something went wrong and the community demands some answers," he said.

At a separate press conference later in the afternoon, Police Chief Karl Ross announced that UCPD is planning to conduct an independent investigation into the incident, in addition to their internal investigation.

During the same press conference, Interim Chancellor Norman Abrams said a number of eyewitnesses have already come forward to participate in the investigation.

"I am confident that the review process that is being undertaken will allow us to reach a fair, appropriate and just conclusion," Abrams said.

Several eyewitnesses also spoke to the crowd during the rally, though some declined to give their names.

UCPD has maintained that the UCPD officers could not have known at the time that the student was not a threat; Ross said the officers used force because they felt they were in danger.

But some witnesses said the response seemed to be inappropriate for the situation.

ELINA ANTONIOU/Daily Bruin Senior Staff

Protestors listen to one of the multiple students, community members and activists who spoke during the rally.

"I personally couldn't sleep that night," one speaker said. "This was majorly excessive. There was no reason for (police) to do this once they had complete control of the situation."

Organizers repeatedly stressed that the rally was in response to violence on campus in general.

"These police were way out of bounds," said Samer Araabi, a general representative on the Undergraduate Students Association Council. "Do you feel protected by the police?"

The crowd roared back with a resounding "No."

After the rally was over, just before 1 p.m., protesters began marching to UCPD's station on Westwood Boulevard, though organizers had said at the beginning of the rally that they had no plans to do so.

Organizers asked the crowd to remain peaceful as they marched, still chanting, to the station.

"Let's stay nonviolent, because we are marching against violence," said Sabiha Ameen, president of the Muslim Students Association and a rally organizer.

Protesters gathered on UCPD's front lawn, chanting that they wanted to see the chief of police.

By the time students arrived at the station, the front door of the station was locked and most of the lights downstairs were turned off. Berky Nelson, director of the UCLA Center for Student Programming, said the chief of police was not available to speak with protesters because he was meeting with the chancellor.

As a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter circled briefly overhead, the crowd refused to disperse.

"Hell no, we won't go," they chanted.

After students had been at the station for over 45 minutes, they left voluntarily.

Nelson said police would listen to student input.

"There will be student input," he said. "Their voice was heard, and they were received with all due respect."

Though the crowd was overwhelmingly opposed to the police officers' actions, a few students in attendance questioned the student's actions as well.

"If you've been told to leave, you need to comply," said Christo Rose, a fourth-year computer science student. "(Police) have no choice but to respond."

But Rose added that he believes the use of force in the situation was excessive.