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You Don’t Have to Be Hurting Anyone

There’s a YouTube torture video you have to see, if you can stand it. But first…

A common but false belief is that if you haven’t done anything wrong, i.e., hurt anyone or on the verge, then you generally have nothing to worry about as far as the police go. Of course, that’s demonstrably false. If you’re speeding on a country road with nobody for miles around, you can still get a citation just like if you run a red light in full-on city congestion. Such examples are endless.

It used to be — at leased it seemed — that such "misdemeanor" encounters with police were at least peaceful.

But it seems to me that policing and prosecution have become ends in themselves. These attract the kind of people who want to police and prosecute, but have not the slightest regard or passion for serving the public good of protecting the innocent from aggression and endeavoring to get to the truth and see honest and objective justice done.

Now, it increasingly seems as though the police are the predators to every extent they believe they can get away with. Bad guy, good guy, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that seems to matter is if they can get away with a brutal and emotionally charged encounter, at which point, they seem to do everything possible to provoke escalation, such that they can justify even more force.

And then you have the prosecutors. Incentives are not such that district attorneys are rewarded for getting to the truth and seeing to honest justice. No, the standard is whether they can get ’em or not; whether they can convince a jury.

The whole thing is a disaster.

And so you have this: torture by cops on the UCLA campus, tasering a student at least five times because he initially refused to show his I.D. for a random check, or leave the library (I assume he’s a paying student, so some sort of presumption due a customer might be in order). Then, once tasered and on the ground, he’s repeatedly tasered while screaming in agony because he either refuses to stand up, or can’t.

People: you have one very serious problem on your hands. There’s only one way this can resolve, and frankly, I’m a bit surprised — if not impressed — that the crowd of gathered students remained so composed yet insistent while the cops were barking their orders and carrying out their deeds. I sure would not be able to find any moral fault had those students torn those cops limb from limb. I’m glad they didn’t, for the students’ sake, and I’m gratified that they didn’t just bury their heads in books, not wanting to "get involved."

More commentary here. Via Bill St. Clair.

Update I: An MSNBC interview of the victim’s attorney. Now, of course, this is going to play out in some ways it shouldn’t, and there were seemingly a few bits of BS in that interview. But look: if the guy was being unruly, then it could have and should have gone down just like such things have always gone down for decades. The cops or some authority comes along and asks politely for the guy to leave, which is going to end the matter right there most of the time. If he refuses, then he gets hauled out by the armpits by a couple of strong men, whether he cooperates or goes limp, and then it’s the end of the matter.

What is clear to me is that the cops were looking for some supposed "justification" to use their "non-lethal weapon," and they were just not going to let the situation diffuse until they got their chance. Even after the first shot (of about five, give or take), the guy screamed "OK, I’ll leave" a couple of times. He also screamed: "I’m not fighting you." There was ample opportunity after the first shot and after every subsequent shot to diffuse the situation. But the cops consciously and purposely chose to agitate and escalate so they could taser the guy again and again.

Disgusting. I’m ashamed to even be called an American, anymore.

Update II: Of course, this is no surprise at all.

The UCLA police officer videotaped last week using a Taser gun on a
student also shot a homeless man at a campus study hall room three
years ago and was earlier recommended for dismissal in connection with
an alleged assault on fraternity row, authorities said.

UCLA police confirmed late Monday that the officer who fired the Taser
gun was Terrence Duren, who has served in the university’s Police
Department for 18 years.

Duren, who was named officer of the year in 2001, also has been involved in several controversial incidents on campus.

Equally unsurprising is the fact that he has been on the job for 18 years and is still on the job.

Duren said Monday that he joined the UCLA police force after being
fired from the Long Beach Police Department in the late 1980s. He said
he was a probationary officer at the time and was let go because of
poor report-writing skills and geographical knowledge.

In May
1990, he was accused of using his nightstick to choke someone who was
hanging out on a Saturday in front of a UCLA fraternity. Kente S. Scott
alleged that Duren confronted him while he was walking on the street
outside the Theta Xi fraternity house.

Scott sued the
university, and according to court records, UCLA officials moved to
have Duren dismissed from the police force. But after an independent
administrative hearing, officials overturned the dismissal, suspending
him for 90 days.

Duren on Monday disputed the allegations made by Scott.

In October 2003, Duren shot and wounded a homeless man he encountered
in Kerckhoff Hall. Duren chased the man into a bathroom, where they
struggled and he fired two shots.

The homeless man, Willie Davis
Frazier, was later convicted of assaulting an officer. Duren said
Frasier had tried to grab his gun during the struggle. But Frazier’s
attorney, John Raphling, said his client was mentally ill and didn’t do
anything to provoke the shooting.

And, naturally…

Duren […] was back on duty at the UCLA campus Monday night

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

22 Comments

  1. Richard Nikoley on November 21, 2006 at 17:34

    "Police work is ugly"

    Glad you noticed.

    "…and when we have video of it, all of the politically correct hand wringers wet their pants."

    And I suppose those who think he deserved it cream theirs, eh?

    "When…security"

    Whose security?

    "the people trying to protect you and I"

    Protect me from what, a guy studying in the library for mid-terms?

    "Now this tool is trying to make a political statement"

    Of what sort? What political statement is he trying to make? Might he be trying to make the political statement that tasering him five times for "being a jerk" is brutal and unbecoming of America? Let me ask you: do you think the 4 or 5 cops on the scene could have carried the guy out, in spite of his resistance? Yes, or no? If you're honest and answer "yes," then what has happened to the proud and professional restraint that police have been know for; for decades up until about the 1980s? Where is their professional pride in diffusing volatile and emotional situations? Nowadays, they're the most emotional and volatile entity on the scene, and they agitate in order to evoke additional resistance.

    "All because this jerk thinks he's above the rule of law"

    Suppose we voted in a law that said it was OK, indeed encouraged, to kill people named "Kevin." Would you consider yourself above it?

  2. Richard Nikoley on November 21, 2006 at 21:10

    "He keeps screaming that he will leave while making no attempt to do so."

    You don't know that.

  3. Kevin on November 21, 2006 at 17:09

    THE JERK DESERVED IT.

    Police work is ugly, and when we have video of it, all of the politically correct hand wringers wet their pants.

    When you resist security (the people trying to protect you and I) you deserve the consequences.

    Now this tool is trying to make a political statement, he's hiring shyster lawyers, and all of the truly pathetic "civil rights" groups (cough!) are trying to glom on… All because this jerk thinks he's above the rule of law. This is sick.

  4. Richard on November 21, 2006 at 18:18

    "Police work is ugly, and when we have video of it, all of the politically correct hand wringers wet their pants."

    The writer of this comment may well be the biggest idiot ever to be allowed near a computer. I am surprised that someone whose knuckles spend so much time dragging on the ground could operate a keyboard. With any luck you will be the next recipient of the attention of power hungry nut cases with badges. I don't think the words have been created to describe what a mindless moron you are.

  5. James Pruitt on November 21, 2006 at 21:03

    While I agree that the police should have simply picked the student up and carried him out I have to admit that the kid was being a complete ass. He reminded me of so many children who tell you they are doing whatever command you have given them whilst not making the slightest effort to move and do what you asked. He keeps screaming that he will leave while making no attempt to do so.

    And, as usual, we do not know what preceded the scene and prompted the police to question the student and ask him to leave.

    Lastly, I would have to agree that the kid was trying to make some political statement. He begins the video screaming something about the Patriot Act. While the campus police may be a bunch of jerks on power trips, I feel pretty certain that they were not thinking that they now had all this power to terrorize students because Congress passed the Patriot Act.

  6. Billy Beck on November 22, 2006 at 20:22

    I might be interested to hear what comes out of your mouth while you're being tased, Tina.

  7. Rene on November 22, 2006 at 22:54

    To Iron Bear…

    Again, I think your emotions are clouding the situation. Not once did one of those officers "scream" get up. It was calmly and strongly requested. And the 20+ times he was asked to get up off the floor between getting shocks for compliance should, normally, be more than efficient for any person to understand what is expected of him. He certainly had command of the English language, so that barrier is a non-issue.

    Iron Bear, I would hope that good judgment would prevail and when an officer asks you to do something, you would comply.

    It doesn't matter if that officer is on foot in a library or in his car pulling you over on the road. You are obligated to do as he asks, when he asks, by the nature of his office.

    You don't say no to an officer when he asks to see your driver’s license and registration. Why should you think this should be any different? You don't know that the officers didn't request to see his ID before touching him. It's not on the video and would have happened before they laid hands on him. It's the first thing an officer asks you. You all know this, if you've ever been pulled over. Even if you haven't been pulled over, it's portrayed on television enough…

    If you resist, the officer can deem it necessary to use various means to get you to comply.

    Mostafa was not free to just walk out of the situation and leave, he had created a disturbance with the CSO's, the CSO's called the PD and the Police are obligated, at that point, to find out what his deal is.

    There might have been other ways to leave with Mostafa, but picking him up and carrying him out is not always the best option. More serious injuries can result from this type of policing than making someone who is able to walk walk. Torn muscles, broken bones from someone’s arms forcefully taking their whole body weight and being dragged.

    And before you all go after me for the whole tasering thing is dangerous and can kill, issue. Please do some homework and read this:

    specifically pages 6 and 15 and the whole thing if you really want to be informed. (which I hope..so I can stop hearing people spout inaccuracies) I charge you with finding more information with supporting documentation to prove this wrong. And no…news articles with quotes won't do. I want to see the facts. If you can, I will consider conceding my point.

    Yes, people have died in much publicized incidents, but if you read the statistics you will find a predominance of a contributing factor to the cause of death.

    And remember, he wasn't tased. He was shocked with a taser on drive-stun, which is a lower setting than the taser attachment. At no point was he tased…

    As for how many times he was shocked to be determined as excessive, well that issue is being investigated as we write…

    We can all argue all day long, but my wish is that people can debate the issues with informed opinions instead of impassioned, quick judgments.

  8. Rene on November 22, 2006 at 17:01

    You also don't know if he wasn't resisting arrest, he can yell all he wants, but actions tell the story and you can't see all of his actions in this video…

    You also don't know what was happening in the minutes before this video started…

    You also don't know in this video if he is really a student and not some nutjob off the street looking to do something bad (don't tell me you can tell just by looking at someone, because that would be "Profiling" and we all don't want that here)…

    You also don't know what his name is from watching this video, neither did the officers at this time…

    People make assumptions based on emotional responses to seeing images of this nature. We have to remember that we are not getting the whole story from this one video. We are also not getting the whole story from either the officers or the witnesses because we each view things with our own spin on it, changing facts in our head to go with our emotional responses. This is human and to be expected. It must be impartially investigated and it is to my understanding that it will be. Soon.

    I feel that it is prudent that we wait and see what truth comes out in the investigation before we condemn anyone…student or officers. There is likely more that we don't know and won't know because we are not privy to all of the information. Yet.

    You may flame me for being a supporter of police officers. I probably deserve it.

    But, to call people names for stating what they believe; is low, uneducated and uncaring. If you want people, police included, to treat you with respect and listen to your side of the story without judgment, then you must practice this yourself.

    I know all of you haven't done this, but I was disappointed in a post above.

  9. Tina Pham on November 22, 2006 at 19:10

    To Richard Nikoley and Richard above – I don't think death threats and name calling it are the proper way to get your point across. That type of emotional, knee-jerk, behavior is all too common on campus and it has to stop. It's time for college students to stop acting like freaking college students already!

    Anyhow, I tend to agree with the posts above by Kevin, James, and Rene. Yes, there may have been excessive force (*maybe*), but it seem to me it's very clear, especially based on the ridiculous statements he was screaming during the event, that Mostafa was trying to "create" a situation. He was trying to incite the police and gain the attention of politically correct, reactionary types. I think thats all the more clear now that he has hired the infamous Stephen Yagman. I think the truly disgraceful CAIR org is joining the fray too.

  10. Alex on November 23, 2006 at 00:29

    I'm sorry, but the guy saying he didn't want to show police his ID because he felt they were profiling him goes a long way toward explaining this fellow's motivations. Moreover, being asked to show identification or leave a secure building does not justify outbursts of that nature. The guy was screaming at the top of his lungs in a university library, for chrissakes!

    If it were up to me, people who are that loud and disrespectful to others trying to receive an education would be thrown in jail for their utter lack of consideration for their fellow man. But, since anti-intellectualism reigns (most likely do to the actions of students and professors like the gentleman in question), we'll never see a law protecting the 99% of students who were trying to better themselves, when that 1% trying to make a political statement are so very vocal.

  11. Richard Nikoley on November 23, 2006 at 07:44

    To the Tinas, Renes and Alexes:

    I'm away for the holiday, so this will be short. Very short.

    The three of you come with baggage, and that's why you're wrong. Your presumptive bias is for the cops, the law, presumed authority. Mine and others here employ a simple standard: was he hurting anyone? Was he likely to hurt anyone?

    I would be interested to know why he was asked for his ID, if others were not. And he probably went overboard in his objection, but I note: not one of the many students there appears to be supporting the cops either before, during, or after the incident.

    In fact, it was quite the contrary.

    So, just who were those cops protecting, eh?

  12. Kyle Bennett on November 23, 2006 at 08:20

    Let's assume that the kid's behavior did warrant tazering. We can't know from the video whether it did or not, but we do know that there are situations where it is required. Force is sometimes necessary.

    The policeman's first job is to avoid it becoming necessary.

    What we can tell from the video is a good part of what the police officers' behavior was. The fact is that it was their behavior that escalated the situation to that level. They failed their primary mission, because they never engaged it.

    Why did they do so? Character.

    That's what it missing in police today. True authority comes from character. It is communicated by a look in the eye, a firm voice, a demeanor that both shows and demands respect and moral conviction.

    But police, for at least the last few generations, have been put in an impossible situation. They do just a little too much, and they're crucified for it. They do just a bit too little, and they're crucified for it. The authority to decide what is too much or too little has been taken out of their hands, and they are left with only the responsibility.

    So men of character no longer choose to be policemen, because their skills are no longer allowed to operate. What remains are men of action. Not purposeful, thoughtful action, but action for action's sake. Men who never had or were never taught character. Men for whom authority comes, not from within, but from external sources.

    Their firm voice and shrill demands are not expressions of authority, but attempts to create it. The perps see right through that. They know that whatever happens, it will not be the men in uniform who decide the consequences, but others, distant from the reality of the situation, driven by forces just as distant and irrelevant.

    No doubt today's police are well trained. But training cannot impart character, it can only impart tactics. And so that is what police rely on, because that is all they have.

    It's not enough. It never was.

  13. Ironbear on November 22, 2006 at 18:26

    "If you want people, police included, to treat you with respect and listen to your side of the story without judgment, then you must practice this yourself."

    Yes. Indeed. Because not practicing this means I might get tasered four or five times while being screamed at to get up…

  14. Aaron Krowne on November 23, 2006 at 08:15

    Kevin:

    Police work isn't ugly, because cops spend most of their time avoiding the actual ugly work. It's much easier to victimize basically reasonable and peaceful citizens.

    Case in point: I was pulled over for speeding yesterday (hadn't noticed the speed limit dropped for a work zone where no actual work was going on), and the cop made sure to threaten me with the fact that he could have dragged me into jail. It seems to me that by the letter of the law, the cops can throw you in jail for pretty much anything (and they have done so to me in the past), so I wasn't much impressed.

    Richard is right… the system has selected for sadistic assholes, who are in fact cowards as they totally avoid the dangerous work.

  15. Kyle Bennett on November 23, 2006 at 23:07

    Whenever I see that term "drive-stun" setting, I think of cattle. And then cattle cars. And then… well, you can guess the rest.

  16. Ironbear on November 23, 2006 at 17:52

    Re: "Posted by: Rene"

    We're obviously missing connections on something a sarcasm tag might have avoided. Damn these underequipped blogging softwares.

    My emotions aren't clouding anything, kiddo. They're not even engaged in this, for a number of reasons that probably aren't germane, and aren't any of your business even if they are germane.

    Lose that condescending strawman and we might have room for discussion, and I'll do you the courtesy of losing he obligatory snicker that hits me whenever someone tries that "you're being clouded by emotion" routine. Deal?

    *shakes head* There is so much wrong with almost every single paragraph in your rebuttal that it's difficult to know where to begin. The majority of it is preceptual: you seem to be starting from the basis of "Well, if they tasered him, then of course they must've had good reason to…"

    I'll cheerfully admit that I'm also operating from a preceptual bias: "No, they don't neccessarily have to have had good reason."

    My preceptual bias is based – only partly – on catalogging a long list of examples of abuse of police "authority" over the past six+ years, inclusive of examples of bad reasons, negligent reasons, criminal reasons, and/or no reasoning involved at all. Given the rising prevalence of these incidents and the policing mentality they display, I have no good reason to offer the officers the benefit of the doubt.

    *ahem* "Officers". UCLA Police = Rent-a-Cop. Hired gunsel with a tin star.

    Your turn. You did an exemplary job of detailing all of the things we can't see in that video. Upon what do you base your presumptional bias towards the officers?

    Have to admit: I am more than somewhat bemused that my quote and one-line throwaway wisecrack inspired a multiparagraph response. Wonder what a two-liner would have gotten? 😉

    "As for how many times he was shocked to be determined as excessive, well that issue is being investigated as we write…" – Rene

    Betcha a Quatloo that the investigation ends with administrative leave and no charges filed.

    I'll also betcha two Quatloos that if your or I had tasered someone repeatedly in LA because they refused to leave our property, we wouldn't get merely administrative leave… especially not if it came to light we'd shot a bum a year earlier.

    Maybe I should go back to being a hired gunsel. Think I could get a tin star? Naw… I'm probably not qualified – I've never shot a bum.

  17. Alex on November 25, 2006 at 18:08

    You lead the story with inflammatory comments about Police Torture, then tell me that I come with baggage?

    Take a look in the mirror, brother.

    I am not normally one to support the management, but when one person is impinging upon the rights of others, hampering their ability to use a common area of the university for its true purpose, then I have no sympathy when the fellow gets jolted. The purpose of forming a society is so that we can protect each other from selfish people like this, who would constantly walk all over everyone else because of their high and noble moral beliefs.

    You ask if he was hurting anyone, claiming that criterion as your 'simple standard.' Well, there you have it. He was hurting everyone in the library that evening, and should be treated accordingly.

    Sorry, folks. This is America. Individual ethical beliefs have no place in the lawbooks. If you want to exercise your freedoms, you have to do it in such a way that it does not trample on the freedoms of others. It's that simple.

    Your arguments are misguided, Richard. I don't care if the entire student body of UCLA came funneling into the library to support the other student. Sanity is not statistical, as Winston Smith once said. Moreover, what California university students support en masse has no bearing on the law (nor any relation to reality, in most cases).

  18. Richard Nikoley on November 26, 2006 at 08:13

    "You lead the story with inflammatory comments about Police Torture"

    Inflammatory to police and those who presume their deeds are just because they're the police. Five shots with the taser is torture. It's a simple, observable fact. It was unnecessary, as everyone on the scene was clearly able to observe and made quite clear their objections.

    "but when one person is impinging upon the rights of others, hampering their ability to use a common area of the university for its true purpose"

    You're inferring that, but is it true? From what I gather, everyone was just going about their quiet business of study, and this guy got singled out. Perhaps he overreacted — he's a kid with a few lessons to learn about propriety, I'm sure. And this is grounds to hit him with a cattle prod five times?

    Is that how unruly people are effectively dealt with?

    "I have no sympathy when the fellow gets jolted."

    Clearly. Bravo.

    "The purpose of forming a society is so that we can protect each other from selfish people like this, who would constantly walk all over everyone else because of their high and noble moral beliefs."

    Indeed. Let's make sure we can repeatedly taser people with "high and noble moral beliefs." Watch out for them.

    "You ask if he was hurting anyone, claiming that criterion as your 'simple standard.' Well, there you have it. He was hurting everyone in the library that evening, and should be treated accordingly."

    Well, that's a proposition that's very easy to test by simply comparing the number of complaints filed by other students against this one with the number filed against the cops. Any guess what you're going to find, from looking at the video?

    My guess is that the kid probably did create an unnecessary disturbance, and rather than have professional police calm and diffuse the situation and get it to the outside, they are the ones who elevated it to a point where the library became a conflagration.

    The police caused that. They caused that because they were childishly unwilling to let a single one of their orders go disobeyed. The mature officer assesses if the person is a real danger to anyone, and then seeks a resolution that everyone can live with.

    That's not how police operate, anymore. They're spoiled, mean and obnoxious children — only they carry clubs, tasers, and guns.

    "This is America. Individual ethical beliefs have no place in the lawbooks."

    Oh, right. Like, for instance, when it was legal to buy, sell, and hold slaves. Those morally opposed had no place.

    Well, let's just hope we never vote in a law that makes it legal to kill you or people like you, Alex. You'll be intellectually and morally defenseless if we do.

    "If you want to exercise your freedoms, you have to do it in such a way that it does not trample on the freedoms of others."

    Non sequitur.

    "I don't care if the entire student body of UCLA came funneling into the library to support the other student. Sanity is not statistical, as Winston Smith once said. Moreover, what California university students support en masse has no bearing on the law (nor any relation to reality, in most cases)."

    Oh, right. The actual people in the library don't count. They're "victims" because you, or some cop, or some administrator, or some statute says they're victims.

    You are claiming victims. There aren't any who have come forward. So far as I can tell, all of these victims — upon whom you base your arguments justifying the use of repeated shots with a cattle prod — are admonishing the cops to stop.

    What about that, eh?

    Produce a real victim, and I mean a real one, which means: they themselves claim to have been victimized. Until then, you've got nothing. Nothing at all.

  19. Ironbear on November 26, 2006 at 08:22

    "Indeed. Let's make sure we can repeatedly taser people with "high and noble moral beliefs." Watch out for them." – Nikoley

    Damn right. Those bastards are dangerous. They might think at you and then your head will explode and… oh wait…

    That was Scanners. Nebber mind.

  20. Ironbear on November 26, 2006 at 08:30

    "This is America. Individual ethical beliefs have no place in the lawbooks."

    *boggles* Did you relly actually type that witha straight face, Alex?

    That whirring sound you're hearing is Jefferson drilling down to China.

  21. Richard Nikoley on November 30, 2006 at 06:41

    "All I am arguing is that we do not have the whole picture and I am unwilling to accuse brutality without knowing the entire story."

    The other many students on the scene had the "whole picture" and it's quite clear whose side they were on, even though they were the "victims" being "protected."

    If you'll excuse me, I'm going to side with the "protected" potential "victims" and the victim in this case.

  22. James Pruitt on November 30, 2006 at 04:45

    Sorry, I have been away for a while and am late returning to the thread…. this is in response to the response to my post…

    > Me: "He keeps screaming that he will leave while making no attempt to do so."

    Richard: You don't know that.

    Lest my eyes and ears have completely failed me, yes I do. Not once to I see the student attempt to stand and walk out of the library.

    Again, we do not know what behavior preceded the incident. However, I am almost certain that the officers were not standing around surveying the population of the library and go, "Aha… there's one. Let's attack this guy."

    I am not going to go into whether or not I am a police supporter or not. I shouldn't have to. I am simply commenting on what I see, trying to do so with as little bias and knee-jerk reactionism as I can. All I am arguing is that we do not have the whole picture and I am unwilling to accuse brutality without knowing the entire story.

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