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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Tasered student is sorry
He writes three apology letters as part of his probation. Charges won't be pursued.
By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER, Times Staff Writer
Published October 31, 2007
In three separate letters sent to UF President Bernie Machen, the "Gator Nation" and the UF Police Department, UF student Andrew Meyer apologized for the Sept. 17 confrontation and arrest at John Kerry's campus speech.
He made national headlines last month when he tussled with campus police and screamed, "Don't Tase Me, Bro!" as one officer stunned him with her Taser and U.S. Sen. John Kerry looked on.
But now, University of Florida student Andrew Meyer is singing a court-ordered refrain of I'm Sorry, Bro to the UF community and the Police Department.
In three separate letters sent to UF President Bernie Machen, the "Gator Nation" and the UF Police Department, Meyer apologizes for the Sept. 17 confrontation and arrest at Kerry's campus speech.
Meyer's attorney released the letters to the media Tuesday, the same day Alachua County State Attorney Bill Cervone announced he will not pursue charges against Meyer if he successfully completes a voluntary 18-month probation. The letters were required as part of the probation, according to Cervone.
"I never wished to cast a negative light upon our fair University," Meyer writes to the UF community. "At the John Kerry forum, I stepped out of line. There were rules in place to ensure that the forum was run in an orderly fashion, and I did not follow them."
Meyer goes on to praise Machen for his "calm and leadership," specifically the creation of a task force of students and faculty who are re-evaluating how UF polices campus events while maintaining free speech rights.
Campus police arrested Meyer at last month's Kerry speech, after Meyer questioned Kerry's membership in the Skull and Bones society and then refused to be seated. Two officers tried to lead Meyer away from the microphone, but he refused and began shouting that they were arresting him. Video footage from the forum, made famous on YouTube, shows Meyer growing more and more belligerent.
Officers eventually wrestled him to the ground and tried to handcuff him, then stunned him once after he resisted arrest and would not allow them to put the cuffs on, according to an FDLE investigation of the incident.
The FDLE inquiry - outlined in a 17-page summary released last week - concluded that officers were justified in arresting Meyer and using the Taser, a gun lookalike that uses jolts of electricity to temporarily stun resistant subjects.
Patricia Telles-Irvin, UF vice president of student affairs, said Tuesday that she accepts Meyer's apology.
In a letter to students posted on UF's Web site, Telles-Irvin says that based on the "sincerity" of Meyer's apologies and "his ownership of his actions, we look forward to his return to campus and wish him all the best."
He took a leave of absence from fall classes after his arrest but plans to return in January.
That's the same month assisted suicide proponent Dr. Jack Kevorkian comes to campus for a speech expected to draw lots of protesters - and campus police officers.
Staff writer Stephanie Garry contributed. Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at email@example.com or 813 226-3403.