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Cops on leave after Taser incident, student's behavior under scrutiny

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Student was "lighthearted" once cameras were not in sight, police say
  • Florida Division of Law Enforcement to investigate arrest of student
  • University spokesman: Andrew Meyer was "being disruptive"
  • Some students protest arrest, call it unacceptable in the United States
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(CNN) -- Two University of Florida police officers were placed on leave with pay after using an electronic stun gun to subdue a student who was questioning Sen. John Kerry at a campus forum, the school's president said Tuesday.


Student Andrew Meyer is surrounded by university police in Gainesville, Florida, on Monday.

But the student's behavior and past activities are prompting questions about whether the incident was part of a stunt.

The Florida Division of Law Enforcement will investigate Monday's arrest of Andrew Meyer, said University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen. Machen called the incident "regretful for us."

"The thing that I regret is that civil dialogue and civil discourse did not happen," Machen said. "That's fundamental to a university campus. Why it didn't happen is what we're trying to sort out."

During Monday's forum, Meyer came to the microphone to question the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee from Massachusetts. Video Watch the incident unfold »

"You will take my question because I have been listening to your crap for two hours," Meyer told Kerry, according to the police report of the incident.

He then turned to a woman and said "Are you taping this? Do you have this? You ready?" the report said.

Clarissa Jessup, who contributed I-Report video of the incident to CNN, said Meyer gave her his camera and asked her to shoot video of him posing his questions to Kerry.

Organizers had cut off questioning before Meyer went to the microphone, she said. Watch Jessup describe the incident Video

Meyer asked Kerry why he did not contest his loss to President Bush in the pivotal state of Ohio over allegations that African-American voters were disenfranchised.

Meyer also questioned Kerry about why he did not support impeaching Bush and whether he belonged to the Yale University secret society Skull and Bones, as Bush did.

One of the police officers on the scene observed that Meyer was "yelling as loud as he could as to sensationalize his presence," according to the police report.

Meyer had about a minute and a half at the microphone before police stepped in to haul him away. As he tried to escape their grip, Kerry protested, "That's all right, let me answer his question."

But as Meyer repeatedly questioned why he was being arrested, officers dragged him to the back of the auditorium and then used a Taser on him when he continued to struggle.

While Kerry pleaded for calm, officers warned the student he would be shocked if he did not stop resisting.

Meyer responded, "What did I do? Get off me ... get the f--- off me, man, I didn't do anything. Don't Tase me, bro, I didn't do anything."

Police noted that his demeanor "completely changed once the cameras were not in sight" and described him as laughing and being lighthearted as he was being driven to the Alachua County Detention Center.

"I am not mad at you guys, you didn't do anything wrong. You were just trying to do your job," Meyer said, according to the police report.

At one point, he asked whether there were going to be cameras at the jail, according to the report.

Meyer was charged with resisting arrest with violence -- a felony -- and a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace. He was released without having to post bond Tuesday.

Machen said the clips posted online paint an incomplete picture of the scene. Watch the university's reaction Video

University spokesman Steve Orlando said before police moved in, Meyer was asked to relinquish the microphone because he was "being disruptive."

But the arrest triggered a protest by a group of University of Florida students Tuesday. One of them, Benjamin Dictor, called the arrest "an assault on reason itself."

"For a question to be met with arrest, not to mention physical violence, is completely unacceptable in the United States," Dictor said.

Some students cheered Meyer's removal, and others looked on quietly. But several screamed in protest when officers prepared to shock him.

Meyer was carrying a business card advertising " 'Speak My Mind,' " the police report said.

The Web site features videos of Meyer taking part in several practical jokes. It also includes a "disorganized diatribe" that criticizes the war in Iraq and the media.

The Web site said his friends had posted coverage of his arrest.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Kerry said he didn't know a Taser had been used on the student until after he left the event, and said he hoped no one was injured.

"In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way," he said.

"I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but again, I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention."


Machen said authorities have not determined whether Tasers were used improperly.

In addition, he said a student-faculty review panel will examine "all of our protocols relative to student dialogue and faculty interaction" in the wake of the incident. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.

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