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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

Use of Taser on Florida student at Kerry speech is ruled OK


GAINESVILLE, Fla. - University of Florida police were justified in using a Taser against a student who refused to stop questioning Sen. John Kerry on campus last month, according to a state investigation released yesterday.

Some had questioned the use of the stun gun against Andrew Meyer, leading to the investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"In short, the FDLE determined that our officers acted well within state guidelines," university President Bernie Machen said in a letter to students, faculty, and staff members.

Two officers who were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation were reinstated yesterday, Mr. Machen said.

Rob Griscti, Mr. Meyer's attorney, said he couldn't comment on the report with a criminal case pending. He said he'd respond after examining the report.

Mr. Meyer, a journalism major, is known for posting practical jokes on his Web site, but Mr. Griscti said his client's questions for Mr. Kerry were serious.

"He raised questions about voter disenfranchisement and other matters about American voting rights, which cut to the heart of our democracy," Mr. Griscti said in a written statement. "These questions deserve the media's attention and full public discourse."

The scuffle between Mr. Meyer and police started during the Sept. 17 speech by Mr. Kerry when Mr. Meyer refused to leave the microphone after his allotted time was up, police said. The videotaped altercation and Mr. Meyer's cries of "Don't Tase me, bro!" were played frequently on the Internet.

The report says the officers' intent was to escort Mr. Meyer from the auditorium, but he broke away and refused to follow the officers' instructions.

"Officers decide not to escalate to hard empty hand strikes, kicks, knees or baton [it] would have looked like the officers were beating Mr. Meyer into submission," the report said.

Mr. Meyer has been charged by police for resisting an officer and disturbing the peace, but the State Attorney's Office has not yet decided whether to file formal charges.

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