5 HOURS AGO
September 19, 2007, 9:25 am
Taking Sides in a Tasing
By Mike Nizza
Tags: florida, law enforcement, politics, protests, youtube
About 200 people are estimated to have attended a protest on Tuesday against the way Andrew Meyer was handled by police.(Photo: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun, via Associated Press)Take it from Andrew Meyer, the University of Florida student hit with the Taser shot heard around the world via YouTube: Did the cops do anything wrong?
“I am not mad at you guys,” the police report [pdf] quoted him as saying in the ride to jail. “You didn’t do anything wrong, you were just trying to do your job.”
Does that mean that Mr. Meyer felt that he was simply doing his job as well? Friends of his told The Gainesville Sun that despite his reputation as a prankster and his apparent flair for self-promotion, exhibited on his personal Web site, TheAndrewMeyer.com, the dramatic exit from Senator John Kerry’s appearance on campus “was not any sort of publicity stunt.”
But one of the officers said that “his demeanor completely changed once the cameras were not in sight,” shifting in a matter of minutes from the kicking-and-screaming coiner of the new catchphrase “Don’t Tase me, bro” to “laughing and being lighthearted.” Then, they say, he asked them whether the news media would be on hand when he arrived at the police station.
Moreover, one of the widely circulated videos of the incident was filmed with his own camera. As he pushed his way toward the microphone to put his questions to Senator Kerry, he handed his camera to Clarissa Jessup, a student he didn’t know, and asked her to record him.
Then, just as his diatribe was heating up, he turned to Ms. Jessup and said, “Are you taping this? Do you have this? You ready?,” according to the police report.
Mr. Meyer has been released from police custody and has yet to be formally charged with either resisting arrest or disturbing the peace. Two officers involved in the incident have been placed on leave pending an investigation of their conduct in the incident.
While the state attorney’s office tries to make up its mind what to do, Florida students and other Facebookers are continuing to debate whether Mr. Meyer’s rights were violated.
For an interesting discussion on whether he should’ve been ejected (it may have been his mention of a sexual act, not a secret society, that prompted the heave-ho) and whether what he did amounted to resisting arrest, check out this forum, which requires registration.
If nothing else, the episode left Senator Kerry looking aloof, a criticism lobbed at him regularly during the 2004 campaign. As the incident unfolded, he tried to use his microphone to lighten the mood, seemingly unaware of the seriousness of the situation. Later, he said that he had not been aware until afterward that the student had been shocked with a Taser.
And while even Mr. Meyer’s friends concede that he unraveled a bit during his on-mike, on-camera rant, the senator on the receiving end of the rant said he regretted “enormously” that “a good healthy discussion” was cut short.