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Sunday, February 05, 2023

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, UF President Bernie Machen said he was "embarrassed" by the events at Sen. John Kerry's speech Monday.

Machen said he regretted that civil discourse did not occur at the meeting between Andrew Meyer and University Police Department officers.

Meyer was Tasered and charged with a third-degree felony and a second-degree misdemeanor after officers said he resisted arrest with violence and disturbed the peace.

Machen said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would conduct a full investigation of the officers' actions.

He said two officers involved, Eddie King and Nicole Mallo, would be immediately suspended with pay pending further investigations.

According to a UPD offense report, King gave the order to Taser Meyer. Mallo Tasered him in the left shoulder, according to both King's and Mallo's accounts.

A panel of faculty and students will review UF's police protocols and suggest ways to improve. UPD will also conduct an internal investigation.

The State Attorney's Office will decide whether to go forward with Meyer's charges.

Machen said he expects fast investigation results.

He said he had seen the video but was not prepared to make any judgment about whether the officers' response was appropriate.

Because Meyer used profanity during a question-and-answer session, his microphone was turned off, said Steven Blank, chairman of Accent, Student Government's speakers bureau. The group hosted Kerry's speech.

When police tried to pull Meyer from the microphone, he began to struggle. Six officers held him to the ground, while one Tasered him.

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Machen said safety has been a heightened concern since the Virginia Tech tragedy, and he is still confident in UPD's capabilities.

UPD is the "most professional and sensitive group of officers I have ever worked with," he said.

He said the amount of phone calls and e-mails he's received the past two days "reminds me of hiring a football coach."

Machen said Meyer is allowed back on campus immediately.

Gene Zdziarski, UF dean of students and assistant vice president of student affairs, said students charged with misdemeanors or felonies would be suspended from classes if they were dangerous to other students.

Meyer does not pose a threat, he said.

Downstairs, protesters waited, cooling off in the air conditioning after marching from the Plaza of the Americas to the UPD office and finally to Emerson Alumni Hall.

"The protesters are concerned about the same things we are," Machen said.

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