The National Iranian American Council welcomes the decision to conduct an independent investigation of the repeated tasering of an Iranian-American UCLA student earlier this week.
Late last night, the UCLA's acting chancellor Norman Abrams heeded the calls from the Iranian-American community and numerous other organizations and requested that Merrick Bobb, the founder of a local nonprofit for police reform, to lead the independent investigation.
UCLA Police Chief Karl Ross also acknowledged the need for an external review of the incident.
The incident occurred during a routine ID check at Powel Library, where according to police, Tabatabainejad was asked to leave the computer lab after he refused to display a University ID. The six minute video of the confrontation, captured by another UCLA student on a camera phone, displays alarming images of Tabatabainejad being repeatedly stunned and warned to "stop fighting" by campus police while he very audibly screams his intention to leave the library and abstain from resisting.
Eyewitnesses to the incident report that Tabatabainejad was shocked by a Taser despite being handcuffed and restrained by police. During the altercation, bystanders can be heard asking the police officers for their names and identification numbers. The video shows one officer responding to a student by threatening that the student will "get Tased too."
Last Thursday, NIAC initiated a nation-wide letter writing campaign calling for an independent investigation to supplement the UCLA police department's ongoing probe into the incident. More than a thousand people wrote acting chancellor Norman Abrams, Police Chief Karl Ross and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa demanding an external investigation.
Norman Abrams said he ordered the probe after the university received numerous calls and e-mails raising concerns about the incident.
Having enlisted the help of Stephen Yagman, a civil rights attorney, the Tabatabainejad family has announced plans to file a lawsuit charging that the police singled out Tabatabainejad because of his Middle East background.
"The footage and eyewitness accounts of the altercation display a disturbingly brutal use of force that appears unjustified and deserves a thorough, independent investigation. We are pleased to see that the University shares our concerns and has decided to conduct a prompt inquiry into the incident," explained NIAC staff member, Ehsan Tabesh, who led NIAC’s campaign for an independent investigation.
Nancy Greenstein, the Director for the Police Community Services Division, tells NIAC that the police department's own investigation may be completed by Thanksgiving.
NIAC's campaign for an independent investigation can be found here.
... Payvand News - 11/19/06 ... --