Incident at University of Florida reflects debate over excessive force
“Police brutality” is a popular cry among protestors, but sometimes officers can go too far. In the eyes of many, this appears to be the case with Andrew Meyer, a University of Florida student who was tasered September 18 at a speech by Sen. John Kerry.
“I think they overreacted with the tasering,” said Jeffrey McCoy, 21, a senior political science major said.
Tensions rose after Meyer questioned Sen. Kerry about his failure to contest the 2004 presidential election and his possible membership in the Skull and Bones society at Yale. Meyer’s microphone was then cut off and police moved him away from the stage.
The incident sparked intense debates after multiple videos surfaced all over the Internet. A video posted by the Gainesville Sun shows Meyer being tasered after he is already held on the ground by four officers. He shouted, “Don’t tase me bro. I didn’t do anything.”
The incident raises serious questions about the level of force police officers can use bringing suspects into custody.
“From what I saw, they didn’t need to go so far as a taser,” said Laura Williams, 21, a junior integrative physiology major.
Tasers are supposed to cause fewer injuries to both suspects and officers, and injuries are not typically permanent.
“On the scale of controls, a taser falls below a nightstick. A nightstick can cause bruising or broken bones,” said Brad Wiesley, a commander with the CU Police Department.
Wiesley said although campus police carry tasers, they are not used very often.
“We use them when somebody is resisting arrest or endangering others and themselves,” Wiesley said.
Sgt. Fred Gerhardt of the Boulder Police Department said officers can use tasers when a suspect is “combative.”
Gerhardt also said the situation changes once somebody is in custody. As an example, he said tasers could be used to compel a suspect to get into a squad car if they are resisting arrest.
“Your rights change once you’re under arrest,” Gerhardt said.
Boulder PD keeps track every time a taser is used.
“We have to give a reason every time we taser someone,” Gerhardt said.
See video footage of the incident in Gainesville, Fla. for more information.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Rob Ryan at email@example.com