Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yes, Tase That Bro

Interesting follow-up on the "Don't Tase Me, Bro" Debacle... it seems Andrew Meyer deserved a good electric shock as suspected.

University Of Florida Police Cleared In Use Of Taser On Student

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- University of Florida police were justified in using a Taser against a student who refused to stop questioning Sen. John Kerry on campus last month, according to a state investigation released Wednesday.

Some had questioned the use of force in using the stun gun against student Andrew Meyer, leading to the investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A summary of the agency's report was released Wednesday. (PDF: Read Full Report)

The report details a campus incident involving Meyer on Sept. 11, a week before the Kerry event, that investigators state shed light on the student's "mindset." During the Sept. 11 incident, a groundskeeper reported seeing Meyer argue on campus with supporters of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid. The groundskeeper told investigators he heard Meyer tell a friend "if he liked what he had seen ... that he should go to the Kerry speech and he would really see a show."

The report then details the Taser incident at the Kerry speech. According to the report, the events unfolded like this:

Meyer forced his way to a microphone after organizers already had announced that another person's question was going to be the last one. Meyer then began giving a speech that used a crass term for oral sex in referencing President Bill Clinton's impeachment. An organizer gave a signal for the microphone to be cut off.

Then, officers approached, intending to escort Meyer from the building. Meyer refused to go along and attempted to break away from the officers. Other officers stepped in to help as Meyer continued to resist. Sgt. Eddie King tried to use his Taser on Meyer, but the unit malfunctioned. Officer Nicole Mallo then applied her Taser for five seconds.

The report states that officers did not want to use pepper spray on Meyer because the room was crowded with spectators. They also concluded during the incident that using force to restrain Meyer might have hurt him more than a Taser.

"In short, the FDLE determined that our officers acted well within state guidelines," university President Bernie Machen said in a letter to students, faculty and staff.

Two officers who were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation were reinstated Wednesday, Machen said.

Rob Griscti, Meyer's attorney, said he had not yet reviewed the report and had no immediate comment. The journalism major is known for posting practical jokes online on his Web site.

The scuffle between Meyer and police started during the Sept. 17 speech by Kerry when Meyer refused to leave the microphone after his allotted time was up, police said. The videotaped altercation and Meyer's cries of "Don't Tase me bro!" were played frequently on the Internet.

The report says the officers' intent was to escort Meyer from the auditorium, but he broke away and refused to follow the officers' instructions.

"Officers decide not to escalate to hard empty hand strikes, kicks, knees or baton ... (it) would have looked like the officers were beating Meyer into submission," the report said.

The report, which has Meyer's name and that of other students blacked out, said the officers did what was necessary to control the student.

"Our purpose is, and has always been, to ensure a civil and safe environment where the many types of campus activities and open discourse can occur," said Police Chief Linda Stump.

Meyer has been charged by police for resisting an officer and disturbing the peace, but the State Attorney's Office has not yet decided whether to file formal charges.

Spencer Mann, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, said the decision may be made some time next week

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