A video of police using a Taser stun gun against an Occupy protester at Washington DC’s McPherson Square has garnered widespread attention as the movement fights to maintain its 24-hour presence at the site despite a ban on overnight camping.

Police announced on Friday, January 27, that they would begin to enforce an existing regulation prohibiting overnight camping on federal land by noon the following Monday after concerns over health and safety were raised.

While blanketing the campsite with warnings of the approaching deadline on Sunday, the police were confronted by a protester identified as Ryan Lash. In the video below, Lash is seen shouting an insult at the officers, who proceed to follow him as he walks away. Just before he is tased, Lash tries to pull away from the police as they attempt to detain him, shouting “I have done nothing wrong”.
Police tase protester at 1’41. Video posted on YouTube by MrFr0zak.
According to a May 2011 report published by the National Institute of Justice, more than half of a sample group of 500 law enforcement agencies allow for the use of Conducted Energy Devices (CED), such as a Taser, in the event a subject “tensed and pulled when an officer tried to handcuff him or her”.

Police have reportedly confirmed that Lash was stunned by a Taser and arrested, saying that a routine inquiry into the use of force has been launched.

“Lash was so upset police told him he needed to step away”

Sara Shaw, an Occupy DC protester, witnessed the police tase and detain Lash at McPherson Park on Sunday.
The police had come into the tent area to post warnings about Monday’s noon deadline. They were putting notices on everyone’s tents, including Lash’s, and he came out and started yelling at them and began removing the papers. He was so upset police told him he needed to step away, which he did. He walked to the other side of the park, but they decided to follow him. It’s not really clear why – he did exactly as they asked him to. Maybe it was because he was the only person verbally assaulting them.

I saw Lash fall to the ground right after he was tased. He was still shaking as the police detained him. They called an ambulance to the scene, but didn’t wait for it to arrive. Even though Lash didn’t look well, they just picked him up off the ground and escorted him to the police van. The ambulance arrived five minutes after they left.

The incident put everyone in the camp into a very sombre mood. Some people were crying because it was such a horrible thing to witness. Others were angry and yelled ‘shame!’ at the police as they walked away.The police had also been agressive the night before, after they approached a group of us while we were hanging out. They were very physical with us – there was a lot of shoving and pushing. The two incidents combined just made it feel as though the situation was building up. Everyone in the camp is now very wary of the fact that the police seem to be prepared to be much more brutal with us”.