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November 17, 2006

More Video: LA Cops ''Taser'' Nonviolent Resistor

Resistor. Get it?

This wasn't a pre-planned protest. When officers serving as security guards for a UCLA library began checking (per policy) that everyone in the library after 11pm was a UCLA student (or would have to leave at that point), a member of the Religion of Eternal Grievances refused to show his ID, claiming "racial profiling." The cops then demanded he leave.

Apparently he was leaving, but a cop refused to take his hand off him as he was heading for the door. The student shouted at the officer to take his hand off him, and then decided to go limp to the floor and refuse to exit under his own power.

That's when it gets ugly (lots of profanity and screaming, little you can actually see).

Put aside the fact he's a crying, screaming little hysterical bitch who, I'd say, probably could have used a lot more tasing in his earlier development. Forget the rather trill and effeminate demands by students the cops show tell them their badge numbers.

There really doesn't seem to be any good reason for the cops to have escalated this to the point of tasing an apparently nonthreatening loiterer. As is common, I guess -- and sort of unavaoidable -- the cops' egos became involved in this situation. He was giving them grief and defying their lawful orders; they decided they would impose their will on him one way or another.

The right course of action? Letting the little shit sit there, calling in back-up, and then, having enough men to physically remove him, doing so without incident.

Not having the manpower to carry out his body's dead-weight (I guess), they attempt to coerce him into leaving under his own power.

You can't inflict pain on a nonviolent resistor just to save you the trouble of carrying his fat ass out of a library. You can't torture him, basically, into compliance.

I think this sort of thing is inevitable in these situations; I give the cops a break because I know human nature, and I know they're not somehow immunized against human nature just because they wear a badge. Stuff like this gets personal. It's hard to keep one's objectivity when something escalates into a physical confrontation or a battle of wills.

Still: They did wrong, and the LAPD and the city will end up paying a lot of money for it. And I don't think the city can afford to give them a pass. Lose your cool one time as a cop and your career is probably over. A more realistic view of human nature might support the idea that every cop should get one mulligan on a losing his objectivity (well, with a suspension and retraining and a black mark on his record), but that's not how the game works. Lose it once -- on video! -- and you're all done.


More from Allah.

The short range of the "tasing" attack, by the way, suggests to me it wasn't what I call a "taser" (that is, a gun which fires out electrical leads up to a distance of 15 feet or so) but rather a stun gun (which isn't a gun, just an, um, "electric blackjack"). Are all the cool kids calling a stun gun a "taser" these days?


Oh... The cops' defense is extremely weak -- they claim the little bastard was "inciting" other students, thus, I guess, justifying taking immediate, coercive action rather than waiting for backup.

That's not going to fly. The prick wasn't "inciting" an uprising that had to be put down immediately lest mass violence ensue. He was just being an obnoxious little screaming sissyboy.


Stop the ACLU... diagrees, and asks "What part of 'stand up' didn't he understand?"

Well, that's just arguing the cops gave a lawful order. Which I agree with. The question is what level of violence they're allowed to use in order to secure compliance with a lawful order.

If someone's using deadly force, or armed, and doesn't comply, you can use deadly force. If someone's physically resisting (as in attempting to escape or fighting back without a weapon) you can use nondeadly force.

If someone's not resisting with any force at all -- just going limp and refusing to leave under his own power, and doesn't present any immediate danger -- I don't think you can use force at all, except the fairly minor force of carrying him against his will.

It's possible the kid was resisting being carried -- squirming away, pushing hands off of him, etc. That is a sort of physical resistance, but not one that presents any sort of danger to the cops, or any other students. If such a strategy means you can't carry him out with the number of cops you have, call in more cops. Six people can carry a squirming little shit out whether he likes it or not without harming him.

Well, except for the bruises he'll get from strong grips on his arms and legs.

But I think that's about as much force as you can justifiably use in what is, basically, a nonviolent dead-weight go-limp resistance to a nonviolent misdemeanor.


Eyewitness: He Was Begging For A Little Taser Daddy-Time: Over at Allah's:

et me start off by saying that the guy DEFINITELY was asking to get his ass kicked. He was being extremely rude with the campus patrol guys (who are college students…this was before the real UCPD got called in). He was not complying with their requests to leave the premises, and he was definitely itching for a fight. I actually know the guy and a few of his friends, and I can tell you that he’s the kind of guy that loves to make trouble.

Just as a little backstory, one of the quotes the guy has on his facebook (which he now has taken down) was “I like to find the most difficult solutions to the simplest of problems”.

He definitely taunted the UCPD into behaving the way they did with him.

He aslo answers my question about the taser -- it was used in "drive-stun" mode, which I guess is a nonfiring mode (i.e., physical contact required) and furthermore a lighter charge than full tasing.

Allah says this doesn't change the equation. I don't think it does either.

We have to separate three separate questions:

1) Did the cops issue a lawful order which the kid was legally obligated to comply with?

2) Did the kid's refusal to comply make his eligible for arrest?

3) Was the cops' use of force/coercion to effect that arrest -- when less violent means were available -- justifiably?

The answers are Yes, Yes, and No.

Yeah, the kid "deserved" it. But cops can't use a greater level of force than necessary just because someone "deserves" it. We wink at that sometimes, but it's not proper procedure, and it can't be winked at when it's all on videotape.

An extreme example of the Yes Yes No thing is if someone committing a low-level, non-threatening crime (say, loitering, or public drunkenness) runs from police when they attempt to arrest him. Do they have the right to draw their pistols and begin firing on him to effect that arrest? Of course not.

That's an extreme case, yes, but offered to put the basic idea into sharp relief.


The "Escalating Situation Demanded Escalating Force" Argument: is offered by many. The idea, I take it, is that the other students were in danger of becoming violent, so the cause for violence had to be removed immediately, by painful taser-coercion if necessary.

Sorry, I don't buy it. It's quite clear the other students were not "incited" -- to the extent they were "incited" at all, which they weren't -- into violence by this kid's idiotic dead-weight "resistance," but by the cops' quick-on-the-taser-trigger response.

They could have just cuffed the kid and let him lie on the floor until other cops came. Then they could have easily carried him out.

No "incitement" in that situation.

Yes, nonlethal (or "less lethal," as cops call them) means are to be employed much more freely than lethal means. Part of the theory there is that a good macing or pepper-spraying or billy-clubbing can help you avoid the use of deadly force.

However, look at this situation. Was there some pressing exigency requiring any real infliction of pain?

I don't see it. I see someone acting like a total asshole and going limp to the ground, as lefty protestors do when police attempt to clear them from a road they've decided to block.

And what is the typical police response in that situation? Macing and tasering them until they exit under their own power?

No. It's to get four or six guys on each protestor, lift them up, deposit them in the paddy-wagon, and ferry them off to jail (where a judge will sentence them to "time served," thus freeing them immediately).

Monty Says...

I've been following this discussion and wanted to comment on "force elevation" and "threat level" because that's one of the things you learn in the military for dealing with (possibly hostile) crowds. The first and golden rule is: don't escalate unless they do first. The second rule is: only escalate as far as you need to in order to reduce the threat level to yourself and other civilians.

The kid was pretty clearly resisting, though, so some escalation was called for. If you're a cop and you tell someone to move, and they don't move, you make them move. You cannot lose authority in a situation like that. A perception of weakness is almost a guarantee for the subject to get more, not less, violent. (Whether that's true in this case is not relevant -- if you're a cop, you follow your training.)

So I must agree that these cops over-reacted. The kid was being a total shithead, but much more could have been accomplished by speaking politely, waiting for backup, and then physically removing him from the premises. But letting the kid get away with it would have been equally wrong. He should have been politely but firmly escorted from the premises, and carried if he refused to cooperate.

Well, if someone's cuffed and held on the floor, awaiting additional cops to carry him away to jail, he's plainly "not getting away with it."

What was the situation here? A tinderbox situation with this fuckhead was lighting matches?

If this were the case of an escalating riot after a big school sports win, such tactics would be justified -- because that's really a situation where the situation is degenerating, and can get wildly out of control, and deadly, if not stopped as quickly as possible. When college kids start smashing windows and overturning cars and lighting things on fire, and you catch one, and he drops limp to the ground -- fine, taser him until he gets into the paddywagon. In that situation, you neither have the time (the situation is worsening0 nor the manpower (any riot will quickly have far more perps than cops) for any fucking about.

But this was a libarary, with Ivy-league-equivalent grinders studying late-night.

Was this a crowd likely to begin rioting?

No.

Were there any signs of an imminent riot? Of course not. The most aggressive action the "hostiles" took against the cops was to whine, "I want your badge numbers."

All the "incitement" -- to the extent there was incitement at all, which there doesn't seem to have been much of -- was not in response to the obnoxious screaming-baby sissymary on the floor, but in response to the cops' unecessary and unwarranted escalation into pain-coercion techniques.

Cuff him, have a guy put his knee into his back (lightly but firmly) to keep him pinned to the ground, wait for a couple more cops to carry him away.

Quite frankly -- I'm not sure that the cops present couldn't have managed to carry this sissy out themselves. Cops tend to be bigger than average and fairly strong; unless this kid was obese, I have to figure he was a skinny little pussy. I'm not sure why they couldn't have just cuffed him and dragged him out.

Except, perhaps, they didn't feel like doing such heavy lifting.

"My back is kind of tired and I've been on my feet all day" is hardly a reason to break out weapons that are supposed to be used against actual threats.


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posted by Ace at 02:49 PM

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