Sunday, January 21, 2007

UCLA Taser incident has disability dimension

When UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad walked into a library on campus one night in November, the guard asked him for a student ID, as part of a random check. Tabatabainejad felt singled out on the basis of his ethnicity (he's US-born, of Iranian descent), and refused. He was told to leave the library, and he began to do so. On his way out of the library, he was stopped by campus police, and tasered. There's video of the incident, and multiple eyewitness accounts (a crowd of about 50 students quickly gathered at the scene); most of those seem to support Tabatabainejad's claim that although he was upset and shouting, he was not threatening the police, nor resisting their instruction to leave, before he was tasered. (At least one of the involved officers has a record of excessive force accusations.)

Tabatabainejad filed a civil rights lawsuit this week, against UCLA and the university police. Part of the suit says that the campus police violated his rights under the ADA. Tabatabainejad has a diagnosed bipolar disorder. "He told the officers he had the condition and the officers' response was to Taser him and hurt him rather than deal with him as a person with a disability," said his attorney Paul Hoffman.


Kathy Podgers said...

I was arrested for entering CVS with my service dog, after I showed a copy of the ADA sercice animal law to the police, and explained the law to them. They claimed I tresspassed after notice. In Mass the trespass Law states that "a person without right enters..." Of course, a person with a disability as defined by the ADA is a person with a right to enter as any other member of the public.

They handcuffed my behing my back, and took my service dog away. then they ordered me to get into the "patty" wagon. Due to my physical disability, which is hidden, I am unable to get up into the wagon without someone, or my dog pulling me up and into it. That is why I use the service dog. I explained this to them again.

They thought I was "resisting" and "being uncooperative." So they called in back up for their arrest. 6 cruisers responded, and a dozen cops were swarming all over the area. They had real guns, not tazers. Finally the "Luitenent" arrived, and said "get into that Patty wagon, you do not have a physical disability!!"

Oh, really? I surely do. He then listened to what I had explainesd to the other police. I was taken to the police station and fingerprinted, etc. Then to court, where the Judge did know the law.

I have no doubt that if the police had had tazers then, I would have been shot with the tazer.

Even though I am not "mentally ill" I still was treated "as if." I cannot understand what is going on in this country. I live in Cambridge Mass, and last year they won the most accessible city in america award! how in the world can this be??

I am opposed to taxers, but I am also opposed to rewarding folks for continued discrimination, no mater how politically connected they may be.

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