LEFT OF DAYTON

Resolution??Univ.of Fla. Taser-video student apologizes, cuts a deal | October 31, 2007

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

After all the controversy, attention and protests, the UF student who proclaimed ”Don’t Tase me, bro!” showed his humble side on Tuesday.

 

Posted on Wed, Oct. 31, 2007

BY DIANA MOSKOVITZ

dmoskovitz@MiamiHerald.com

A police officer threatens University of Florida student Andrew Meyer with a taser gun, as two others hold him during a forum where Sen. John Kerry was speaking in Gainesville, Sept. 17.

JARRETT BAKER/THE SUN

A police officer threatens University of Florida student Andrew Meyer with a taser gun, as two others hold him during a forum where Sen. John Kerry was speaking in Gainesville, Sept. 17.

The University of Florida student who proclaimed ”Don’t Tase me, bro!” made a different kind of statement Tuesday: I’m sorry.

Andrew Meyer, a senior from Weston, expressed his regret for all the negative attention he brought and for provoking police officers who stunned him with a Taser at an on-campus speech by U.S. Sen. John Kerry in Gainesville.

The 21-year-old’s statement also helps his legal battle. Apologies to UF and university police were among the requirements for him to avoid prosecution.

The two charges against Meyer are suspended for the next 18 months while the college senior is on probation, said Spencer Mann, chief investigator for the state attorney’s office covering north central Florida.

In addition to making the apologies, Meyer can’t break any laws. He must donate money to the American Cancer Society or do 10 hours of community service. He must comply with any punishment from UF.

Then the charges will be dropped, Mann said, adding the deal was the same as those offered other first-time student offenders.

”The only difference between this and the other ones is this one has video,” Mann said, referring to clip of Meyer’s arrest that exploded across the Internet.

Meyer’s lawyer, Robert Griscti, said his client had wanted to apologize in the first days after his arrest but waited until the legal case was resolved.

On Sept. 17, Meyer peppered Kerry with questions on subjects ranging from impeaching President Bush to the secretive Skull and Bones society at Yale University. Then he wouldn’t leave.

Cops tried removing Meyer and stunned him with the Taser after he repeatedly refused to go and grabbed hold of the furniture.

He was charged with resisting an officer without violence and interfering with an educational institution function.

Video of the confrontation on the Internet turned the event into a world-wide talker. Meyer’s scream of ”Don’t Tase me, bro!” fast became a catchphrase that ended up on coffee mugs and T-shirts.

Meyer released four apologies Tuesday: one to UF President Bernie Machen, one to the police, one to the UF community and a final one in lieu of seeing reporters.

He admitted to forcing the officers to take action against him and said he never meant to damage the reputations of UF or the police.

In one, Meyer wrote, “Because of the world we live in, the polarized environment in America that I have grown up in, I felt that being adamant and confrontational about my beliefs was the right way to effect change.

“I was wrong.”

UF officials said they would punish Meyer but wouldn’t say how, citing student privacy. Griscti only said Meyer wasn’t suspended.

But Meyer is withdrawing from classes for the rest of this semester. He plans to re-enroll in January.

”The enormous media attention and just the public attention to this — it’s a distraction,” Griscti said.

“It’s hard to do what you need to do, stay focused on a job. And his job is being a student.”

Also on Tuesday, UF campus police released the results of their investigation into the incident.

That police report concluded that the charges against Meyer were substantiated and use of force was justified, UF spokesman Steve Orlando said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reached similar conclusions in its own investigation, a summary of which was released on Oct. 24.

And don’t think the story, fueled by the Internet, is over. Griscti has started a website, www.meyercase.com, that promises updates.

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