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UCLA Taser victim sues university

'Excessive force' lawsuit

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The UCLA student who received a righteous tasering at the hands of the university's campus police officers has decided to sue for "unspecified monetary damages", Associated Press reports.

According to the original report in the uni's Daily Bruin, the incident occurred on 14 November last year when security officers at the Powell Library CLICC computer lab asked 23-year-old Mostafa Tabatabainejad "to leave when he was unable to produce a BruinCard during a random check".

As we reported at the time, when he didn't immediately vacate the building, the security operatives returned with police officers to escort him from the premises. The Daily Bruin continued: "By this time the student had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack when an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, at which point the student told the officer to let him go. A second officer then approached the student as well.

"The student began to yell 'get off me', repeating himself several times.

"It was at this point that the officers shot the student with a Taser for the first time, causing him to fall to the floor and cry out in pain. The student also told the officers he had a medical condition."

A video of the whole sorry business subsequently surfaced on YouTube, fuelling general outrage at Tabatabainejad's treatment.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Tabatabainejad now claims that "Los Angeles campus police officers used excessive force by repeatedly shocking him with the stun gun". Tabatabainejad explained that "he tried to remain calm, explaining to the officers that he was a student and that he suffers from bipolar disorder". The lawsuit duly accuses officers of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and causing "intentional infliction of emotional distress".

His attorney Paul Hoffman said: "He told the officers he had the condition and the officers' response was to Taser him and to hurt him rather to deal with him as a person with a disability."

The lawsuit specifically names "UCLA, the campus police department, and officers Terrence Duren and Alexis Bicomong as defendants".

UCLA's acting chancellor Norm Abrams said the university was "pursuing an independent investigation along with an internal campus police department probe". He said in a statement: "Shortly after the incident, I urged everyone not to rush to judgment and to let the investigations take their course. We regret that Mostafa Tabatabainejad has filed a lawsuit at this time." ®

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