February 26, 2010

Student arrested in Reg

University police arrested a student in the A-Level Wednesday night for criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

While UCPD claimed the student was charged because he refused to show officers his identification or leave the library for unruly behavior, witnesses deny that police asked the student for ID or that the student was causing a disturbance. They also said the arresting officer was inappropriately aggressive.

Witnesses identified the suspect as fourth-year Mauriece Dawson, who was taken into custody at around 8:30 p.m. and spent the night in jail. UCPD officers were responding to a complaint by a Regenstein clerk that said Dawson and his friends were making too much noise.

“The policeman put the young man in a choke hold and wrestled him to the ground. The young man did not resist,” according to an account written by first-year Ariel McCleese and signed by more than 10 other students who were in the A-Level at the time.

The incident began when clerk Lynn Franco heard Dawson and fourth-year Sahara Robinson laughing loudly as they walked from the first floor to the A-Level, Robinson said. According to Robinson, Franco told the two to be quiet without identifying herself as a library employee.

Dawson and Franco declined to comment.

“We were baffled [at Franco’s reaction] and continued down to the A-Level where our noise was appropriate,” Robinson said, referring to the fact that the A-Level is often noisy late at night.

Franco walked through the A-Level several minutes later and passed Dawson, Robinson, and their friends. Franco approached them and “in a very angry tone of voice, from what I could hear, said, ‘If you don’t be quiet, I’ll call the police,’” said McCleese, whose account was confirmed by five witnesses who were sitting with Dawson.

UCPD Sergeant Eric Grays entered the A-Level soon after with Franco, who pointed at Dawson from across the room, said third-years and witnesses Krystle Frazier and De’Azia Baldwin.

Witnesses said the officer repeatedly demanded that Dawson leave the building, and that Dawson asked calmly why he was being told to leave. Grays handcuffed Dawson and placed him in a choke hold while Dawson protested, witnesses said, but they disagreed as to what he said.

According to many witnesses, students in the A-Level were staring at the incident by this point.

UCPD spokesman Bob Mason said the arresting officer asked Dawson for ID, but none of the five witnesses interviewed heard such a request. After securing Dawson, Grays demanded Frazier follow him as well, but did not ask Frazier for ID; he had mistaken her for the female student Franco had identified as disruptive. Upstairs, Franco corrected Grays.

UCPD chief Marlon Lynch said asking for ID is typically part of UCPD protocol. “Upon contact [in those types of cases] the officer proceeds to those who were involved and makes the request for identification,” Lynch said.

University spokesman Steve Kloehn said students might be charged with trespassing if they resist a UCPD officer’s request for ID while on University property. “One of the agreements of being a part of this community is that, if I’m asked to ID myself, I have to ID myself. That’s been a long standing, basic condition to being a part of this community,” he said.

Students e-mailed 10 administrators about the situation, including President Robert Zimmer, Dean of the College John Boyer, Dean of Students Susan Art, and Vice President for Campus Life Kim Goff-Crews. Kloehn said those administrators were aware of the arrest and were planning a response, but did not comment on specifics.

“In any event like this, University officials representing all the units that might be involved get together and do a thorough review of what took place and what needs to happen next. Those meetings have begun,” Kloehn said.