UCLA Appoints Outside Investigator to Examine Claims of Police Brutality

LOS ANGELES – The University of California at Los Angeles has appointed Merrick Bobb to conduct an independent investigation of an incident involving the alleged brutal treatment of a UCLA Iranian-American student at the hands of a campus police officer. Bobb has twice monitored the Los Angeles Police Department, and was described by UCLA’s acting chancellor, Norman Abrams, as a leading authority on police conduct.

The decision comes after several hundred students held a protest on Nov. 17 demanding an outside investigation of the incident.

The incident occurred on Nov. 14 in UCLA’s Powell Library. Mostafa Tabatabainejad, 23, refused to show his identification to a library official because he believed he was being singled out due to his ethnicity. The university claimed these requests are part of standard security policy in order to guarantee the safety of late night library patrons.

When campus police were called, Tabatabainejad continued to refuse to show his identification. Before he could be escorted outside the library, he fell to the floor and went limp. Police then used a Taser stun gun to subdue him, as campus police policy permits the use of stun guns against passive resistors.

Police then arrested and handcuffed Tabatabainejad for resisting and obstructing a police officer. He was released with a citation and issued a court date.

The incident was captured by a student’s cellphone, which was subsequently uploaded on the user-sustained and popular Internet site YouTube. The video prompted allegations of police brutality and racial profiling.

On Nov. 17, Tabatabainejad’s attorney, Stephen Yagman, said he would pursue legal action against the university police for using “brutal excessive force” and falsely arresting his client. Yagman claims his client was stunned five times.

Local Muslim leaders praised the university’s decision to have outside investigators examine the incident, and the Muslim Students Association at UCLA has also given its qualified approval. MSA President Sabiha Ameen insisted that students be included among the investigators and that a review of the campus police’s policy on Taser stun guns be forthcoming.

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