Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The third time isn't the charm

Another day, another video although at least this time it's not one involving the Los Angeles Police Department's officers. Another law enforcement agency's police chief is in the hot seat this time.

Today, the incident in question was one caught by an individual's cell phone involving UCLA police officers tasing a student who had refused to leave the library.

UCLA police officer videotaped using taser

Mostafa Tabatabainejad, 23, was seen on the footage falling on the ground in pain as he was tased by police officers.

Earlier, community service officers had made their rounds of the library checking to make sure that those still present in the building after 11pm were students or authorized to be there, a practice conducted for student safety according to the university. They had asked Tabatabainejad for his photo identification card and he refused to show them. Police officers then came to the library later and asked him to leave the library "multiple times", according to police.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times article)

"He continued to refuse," the statement said. "As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building."

Witnesses disputed that account, saying that when campus police arrived, Tabatabainejad had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack. When an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, the witnesses said, Tabatabainejad told the officer to let go, yelling "Get off me" several times

One student who witnessed the incident expressed his opinion on the matter.

"It was beyond grotesque," said UCLA graduate David Remesnitsky of Los Angeles, who witnessed the incident. "By the end they took him over the stairs, lifted him up and Tasered him on his rear end. It seemed like it was inappropriately placed. The Tasering was so unnecessary and they just kept doing it.

Remmesnitsky said that about 50-60 people had gathered and asked the police officers to stop tasing the man and asked them for their names and badge numbers. He added that officers had told him that if he did not leave, he would be tased as well.

The UCLA police chief and administrative officials have said the incident will be investigated and admit that Tabatabainejad was tased multiple times by their officers .


UCLA Assistant Police Chief Jeff Young said Wednesday that he had viewed the video of the campus incident on the Internet and would view any other videos that were shot.

"We will gather as many samples as we can find, from different sources," Young said. "We'll use it for our own administrative investigation."

UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams said in a statement that university police are investigating the incident and the officers' actions.

"The investigation and review will be thorough, vigorous and fair," he said, adding that compliance with the ID policy is "critical for the safety and well-being of everyone."

To the east of UCLA, the Los Angeles Police Department is still grappling with two incidents that were caught on video tape involving its police officers and aired to or on media outlets earlier this week.

Chief William Bratton is currently mulling over whether or not the department's policy in terms of the use of pepperspray should be modified, according to another Los Angeles Times article.

Chief ponders policy change

The article states that Bratton was concerned enough by the video involving a man getting peppersprayed while handcuffed inside a squad car, to immediately place the involved officers off active duty.

Bratton, who is set to decide on the fate of the officers(though one has left the department for a job out of state) in several days, said that several things bothered him about the incident.

The chief said he was uneasy that the officer shut the door of the patrol car, leaving the handcuffed suspect alone inside, after administering the pepper spray.

The closing of the door "was one of the reasons I had concern," Bratton said."My interest there is: Was that pepper spray used to control the behavior of that individual or was it used punitively?" he said.

"If in my judgment the individual ceased to be a threat to the officer and other tactics could have been used, then I could conceivably find the officer out of policy. That whole case really comes down to that issue. And also the closing of the door."

The LAPD also was recently graded once again on its progress under the recently extended consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice and received a mixed report card.

LAPD gets mixed grades on progress under decree

Surprise, surprise, one of those areas that needed improvement was the department's investigation of use of force incidents. According to the report, out of 13 reports that came up for investigation, the department failed to address discrepencies in its investigations. The department also failed to immediately initiate investigations into five other use of force incidents.

The department also needed to evaluate an officer's past history when investigating these incidents, the role of the supervisors and to address a failure to refer officers involved in fatal or near fatal incidents to psychological counseling.

The decree was extended six months ago by a federal judge in part because the department had failed to enact about 30% of the 191 required reforms. But it had made progress in other ways including how it handled citizen complaints.

Despite the events of the past two weeks, Bratton was happy with the monitor's comments.

"Everything is going very well from my perspective," said Bratton, who planned to discuss the report over dinner Wednesday night with Cherkasky. "Fortunately for us, things are progressing well."

On to Riverside.

An unidentified individual named "Billy Jack" has claimed at the California CCW Forum that the Riverside Police Department discriminated against him when he applied for a CCW permit. He is seeking out other people who have had similar problems here.


I want to stress how important it is for denied applicants to the Riverside Police Department to come forward and contact me. We have a team that can assist you with your appeal. RPD's policy, and I use the word loosely, is illegal and violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution as well as the two case law suits previously discussed here. Do not walk away, do not take this lying down. The abuse has to stop!

This department has one of the most outrageous policies in California and I have seen most of them. Their policy is illegal at almost every step. They are even charging more for the psych test than allowed by statute. Heck, if you are going to violate the Constitution, why not the California Penal Code as well?

Someone should remind Mr. Jack that the original version eschewed guns. Then again, the department apparently approved a CCW permit for Asst. City Manager Tom De Santis even though he did not live inside the city limits. It withdrew it and he later received one from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. What he's done with it since then is open to debate.

Also, a local blog, here covered issues pertaining to Riverside County including several pieces involving grand jury investigations into the practices of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.


Anonymous Varro said...

The video of the UCLA student being Tasered repeatedly has been one of the most watched videos on YouTube, and a featured post on DailyKos and AmericaBlog, among others.

I've e-mailed the link to at least two of the lawyers who handled the 2000 Democratic National Convention protest cases, as well as higher-ups in the National Lawyers Guild and the National Police Accountability Project listserv.

ms_xeno, Walter, Callie and Butterscotch the Devil Cat say hi....ms_xeno owes you an e-mail...

Thursday, November 16, 2006 11:42:00 PM  

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