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UCLA settles lawsuit with Tasered student

May 15, 2009 |  6:36 pm

UCLA said today that the university would pay $220,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by a student who was repeatedly stunned with a Taser gun by campus police after he refused to show his identification or leave the school library.

Mostafa Tabatabainejad, then a 23-year-old senior at UCLA, was in the library in November 2006 when a security guard -- conducting a routine check to make sure everyone present after 11 p.m. was a student or otherwise authorized to be there -- asked him to provide identification. Tabatabainejad, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, refused, saying later that he thought he was being singled out because of his Middle Eastern appearance.

When campus police arrived and asked him to leave, Tabatatabainejad refused to get on his feet and walk out. Much of the encounter was captured by students with cellphones or digital cameras. Some of the footage was posted on the Internet and widely viewed,  sparking a student protest.

UCLA’s acting chancellor brought in a police accountability expert, who found that use of the Taser had violated department rules. UCLA police and their outside expert cleared the officers of wrongdoing, but several of the accountability expert’s policy recommendations were adopted, including a ban on the use of a Taser on people presenting purely “passive resistance.”

In what was described as a joint statement from UCLA and the student, the university said the settlement would allow Tabatabainejad to “complete his UCLA degree and move forward with his career.” The statement said neither Tabatabainejad nor the university would comment further.

-- Gale Holland