First Report Out on University Student Tazing
The tazing of a University of Florida student echoed around the world for weeks. Today the first of the findings into the investigation has been released.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (F.D.L.E.) has released its review of the University of Florida Police Department's (UPD) actions in the arrest of student Andrew Meyer on September 17th. Today, TV20 was the first to get reactions from the university's police chief.
It's the first of five steps the university is taking in examining the incident that took place last month when US Senator John Kerry spoke on campus. It led to the to the arrest of a student and the beginning of policy review on campus.
The day after UF student, Meyer made national headlines for being tazed, President of the University, Dr. Bernie Machen declared that the incident would be the subject of independent review.
"First," said Machen, "the chief of police and the university have asked that the Florida Dept. Law Enforcement in Tallahassee to conduct an independent investigation on the police's response in this circumstance."
And University Police Chief, Linda Stump, called FDLE herself to request an investigation be done.
"I think the main thing this report has done is judge our actions our training how we train our officers how we train them to think what we train them to do in response to a disruptive event," says Stump.
In a 17-page executive summary, FDLE's investigation found that the officer's involved acted within the state's guidelines. Stump added, "The FDLE report specifically sites, as far as what level of force is acceptable during an officer's decision making process, responding to the disturbance or the behavior exhibited by the subject."
In a statement released by Machen today, he says he is pleased the review is complete but there is more work to be done to improve how the university fosters "an open environment that is safe for our ever-changing campus community."
When asked how she responds to people who saw six people against one person and it looked like torture, Stump said, "the most we can do is ask people to step back and view the whole thing. what were those :05 to :25 bites of film footage that people made judgements on." Judgements that led to on-campus protests.
While Stump says the taser is a useful tool in reducing harm to officers and aggressors, she says the independent review will shape future functions. "Should the police really be the ones making contact with this person at this time? maybe that's more of a student function or administrative function and maybe not involve the police so quickly," adds Stump.
The 17-page summary was extracted from FDLE's full review was more than 300 pages of witness testimony. An independent review committee will be coming out with their findings by the end of December.
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