Some fans claim tasers used unfairly

Updated: January 5, 2005, 3:18 PM ET
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some Utah fans are upset that police responsible for security at the Fiesta Bowl used 50,0000-volt electric devices to zap fans trying to storm the field after the win.

Arizona State University spokesman Keith Jennings said two people were arrested for scuffling with officers immediately after the game. But he told The Salt Lake Tribune he wasn't sure whether either was among the estimated 24 who were shocked by the devices after Utah's 35-7 win over Pittsburgh in Saturday's Fiesta Bowl.

Use of the weapons was in line with the police department's use-of-force policy, Jennings said. That policy allows officers to use electronic incapacitators anytime a subject is involved in a physical altercation with an officer.

The officers used the weapons at the Sun Devil Stadium in part "to protect the goal posts and the field'' for an NFL game scheduled the following day, Jennings said.

"It was justifiable,'' he said. "They were also trying to protect people, if they go down to the field and knock over the goal post, that sort of thing, we're liable if someone gets hurt. ... We just wanted to force them back into the stands.''

University of Utah Police Chief Scott Folsom questioned the necessity of shocking the fans, who were attempting to enter the field after being beckoned by several Ute football players.

Folsom, who traveled to Tempe for the bowl game, didn't see the incident. But he said he did see the throng of fans pressing against a fence on the north end zone, trying to enter the field.

He said his department, responsible for providing security at Utah home games, probably would not use electric force in a similar situation.

"If you had a person who was seriously disruptive in that crowd, you might use a Taser to bring that person into custody so you could deal with them,'' said Folsom, whose officers carry the devices at Ute games. "You certainly wouldn't 'Tase' people indiscriminately hoping to move an entire crowd back.''

But 16-year-old Chris Mogren said he was pressed up against a 6-foot-high cyclone fence when he was shocked in the arm. It happened when he and a throng of Ute revelers were trying to enter the field.

The officers stunned "whoever was up against the fence,'' he said.

Mogren said he saw 10 to 15 other Utah fans get shocked.

"We weren't trying to break anything, or to tear down the goal posts or destroy the field,'' he said. "We just wanted to be over by the team.''

The ASU Police Department maintains that anyone who was shocked must have been actively fighting with officers, per the department's policy, Jennings said.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press