The police and the Taser ‘win.’ A report has been released:
Two University of Florida police officers who Tasered a student at a recent political forum were justified in their actions, according to a report released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Andrew Meyer, a 21-year-old UF student, was pinned to the ground by six UF Police officers and Tasered when he refused to be physically removed from a Sept. 17 town hall forum with U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. The officers tried to remove him after he used vulgar language while questioning Kerry.
According to the report, the officers had not intended to arrest Meyer initially, but did so when he resisted and subsequently Tasered him when he refused to be handcuffed.
The report says the officers acted “well within” state guidelines that allow for Tasering when a person is resisting.
Sgt. Eddie King, who ordered the Tasering, and Officer Nicole Mallo, who Tasered Meyer, have been on paid administrative leave since shortly after the incident. The two have now been reinstated, according to a statement released Wednesday by UPD Chief Linda Stump.
“As more information has come to be known as to the circumstances surrounding the event, we continue to support our officers who made difficult decisions during the quickly evolving disruption of the event,” Stump said in a news release.
Photos and a complete video of the incident.
The Gainesville Sun article goes on to discuss background information suggesting that Andrew Meyer was intentional in his actions to draw attention to himself.
Apart from detailing the events that led to Meyer’s Tasering, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement suggests Meyer had planned to act out during the campus political event. Meyer told a friend a week before the event that he would put on a show when Kerry came to UF, according to a witness who says he overheard the conversation.
The conversation took place on Sept. 11, according to the report, on a day when Meyer approached a student group on campus that was supporting former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.
“Giuliani supporters had an interaction with (Meyer) in the Plaza of the Americas which resulted in (Meyer) allegedly kicking their candidate’s signs. (Meyer’s) behavior was characterized by witnesses as boisterous and provocative,” the report says.
Meyer then proceeded to have a “heated exchange” with a female student who disagreed with Meyer’s actions or views, the report says.
According to the report, Meyer then told an unnamed friend that, “If he liked what he had seen, referencing the verbal exchange/confrontation he had with the female student, that he should go to the Kerry speech and he would really see a show.”
As Privacy Maven has noted earlier, Andrew Meyer’s alleged pranksterism and publicity seeking inclinations have been widely discussed and debated and Privacy Maven continues to assert that pranksters also have the right to free speech since the U.S. Constitution does not exempt them from such rights.
As the three deaths by Taser in the past month in Canada demonstrate, the Taser can be a lethal weapon. Thankfully Andrew Meyer survived the 50,000 volts of electricity; otherwise, the world indeed would “really see a show.” Tragically, it is a show that has been seen repeatedly. Privacy Maven again makes note of John Pozadzides’ excellent analysis of the excessive use of Tasers by law enforcement officials worldwide.
If we cannot muster any empathy for a “prankster” being Tasered, how do we feel about William Lamb, the 78 year old unarmed man being Tasered at L.A. Airport in 2004? Does it take an expert to determine that maybe this was excessive force and that the 78 year old man, no matter how irate or profane he may have become, did not pose a physical threat or danger to the police?
If the liberal use of Tasers continues in the U.S., Canada and worldwide, it is inevitable that the death toll will rise.