Calif. cop may be fired for giving suicidal student water instead of Tasing him
Police officer with a Taser (Christopher Paul/Flickr)

A union representing campus police officers is accusing the Marina Police Department of unfairly targeting one of its members for choosing not to use a Taser on a suicidal student, KSBW-TV reported.

Statewide University Police Association (SUPA) president Jeff Solomon said the unidentified officer, a corporal, is currently on leave and could be fired in connection with a February incident involving a student at the California State University's Monterey Bay campus.

"Our officer said and felt that there was no need for the level of force that was applied, and my understanding was that's why he didn't deploy his Taser," Solomon said.

The officer, a 20-year police veteran who had been working at the school for 8 years, responded to the incident before being joined by three Marina officers. The Monterey Herald reported that, according to Marina Police Chief Edmundo Rodriguez, the student had a knife and hammer in his room when the officers reached him, and may have attempted to light himself on fire.

"He was clearly a danger to himself and he was in crisis," Rodriguez said. "We were trying to keep him from accessing the weapons or leave, to get him medical attention."

The Salinas Californian reported that Soloman said the Monterey Bay officer managed to calm the student and get him to sit down before his colleagues from Marina reached the scene.

But the other officers used their Tasers on the student after their college colleague left the room to fulfill the student's request for a glass of water. The campus officer subsequently refused to follow an order to use his own Taser on the student. The student was treated at a local hospital for superficial cuts but was not seriously injured.

Rodriguez's department later issued a "failure to act" complaint against the campus officer, accusing him of not engaging in a "highly agitated situation."

"It defies logic and is extremely disappointing that, at a time when law enforcement is under fire for using more force than necessary, an officer is being terminated for attempting to use civilized methods to resolve a situation," the student's father said.

The university said in a statement that the case was "more complex" than Solomon's union had described it.

Watch KSBW's report, as aired on Thursday, below.