GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A University of Florida student with a history of taping his own practical jokes was Tasered by campus police and arrested after loudly and repeatedly trying to ask Sen. John Kerry questions during a campus forum.
Andrew Meyer, 21, spent a night in jail before his release yesterday morning on his own recognizance. He had no comment when he left. His attorney, Robert Griscti, did not return messages seeking comment.
Videos of the Monday night incident, posted on several Web sites and played repeatedly on television news, show officers pulling Mr. Meyer away from the microphone after he asks Mr. Kerry about impeaching President Bush and whether he and Mr. Bush were members of the secret society Skull and Bones at Yale University.
VIDEO: Student arrested, Tasered at Kerry event
University spokesman Steve Orlando said Mr. Meyer was asked to leave the microphone after his allotted time was up. Mr. Meyer can be seen refusing to walk away and getting upset that the microphone was cut off.
As two officers take Mr. Meyer by the arms, Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, can be heard saying, “That’s all right, let me answer his question.”
Audience members applaud, and Mr. Meyer struggles for several seconds as up to four officers try to remove him from the room. Mr. Meyer screams for help and tries to break away from officers with his arms flailing at them, then is forced to the ground and officers order him to stop resisting.
As Mr. Kerry tells the audience he will answer the student’s “very important question,” Mr. Meyer yells at the officers to release him, crying out, “Don’t Tase me, bro,” just before he is shocked by the Taser. He is then led from the room, screaming, “What did I do?”
Mr. Meyer was arrested on charges of resisting an officer and disturbing the peace, according to Alachua County jail records, but the state attorney’s office had yet to make the formal charging decision. Police recommended charges of resisting arrest with violence, a felony, and disturbing the peace and interfering with school administrative functions, a misdemeanor.
University President J. Bernard Machen said he requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the arrest. Officials said an investigation would determine whether the officers used an appropriate level of force.
Mr. Machen called the situation “regretful” in a press conference and said two officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the probe.
“We’re absolutely committed to having a safe environment for our faculty and our students so that a free exchange of ideas can occur,” he said.
Mr. Kerry said yesterday he regretted that a good discussion was interrupted and that he never had a dialogue end that way in 37 years of public appearances. He also said he hoped neither the student nor police were injured.
“Whatever happened, the police had a reason, had made their decision that there was something they needed to do. That was a law-enforcement issue, not mine,” he told Associated Press.