It has beennearly four years since the incident that made Andrew Meyer a YouTube and media sensation. Even so, it’s not easy for the 24-year-old to watch the video of what happened to him at a University of Florida student forum with Sen. John Kerry.
“I don’t go out of my way to watch it, but it comes up sometimes,” Meyer says. “Every time I see it, it’s still painful. People talk about the Taser as if it were nothing. Maybe some people have been tased, and they didn’t feel it. When I felt it, it was excruciating.”
After an address by the senator on Sept. 17, 2007, a Q&A session began. When Meyer reached the microphone, it quickly became clear that the freshman was fired up. He handed his camera to a nearby woman and requested that she film him just before he dived into a series of queries — asking why the Massachusetts Democrat conceded the 2004 presidential election, why then-President George W. Bush hadn’t been impeached, and whether Kerry was a member of the Yale secret society Skull & Bones.
Then, when Meyer said a non-family-friendly word, his microphone was cut off, and campus police began escorting him outside as Kerry began to address Meyer’s concerns.
Meyer resisted, demanding to hear Kerry’s answers. He was wrestled to the ground by officers, which prompted a frightened and incompliant Meyer to yell the four words that have since joined the pop culture zeitgeist: “Don’t tase me, bro!”
Seconds later, officer Nicole Lynn Mallo tased Meyer. Meyer’s screams of agony were caught on film. Meyer was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest — charges that were dropped that October. Media speculation swirled about whether Meyer’s actions were a stunt to promote himself and his Web site.
It’s a subject that irks him today.
“By making the debate about whether I was pulling a stunt, they can direct people away from whether the questions I was asking Senator Kerry have ever been answered,” Meyer says.
Meyer graduated in August 2008, but instead of pursuing a career in journalism, the telecommunications major enrolled in Florida International University’s law school.
“I got a taste of the system,” says Meyer, who is in his second year. The experience made him “want to know how to defend myself. Want to be able to help people.”
Meyer trademarked the phrase “Don’t tase me, bro’’ in September 2007 and says he has sold quite a few T-shirts on his Web site. Meyer says he finished a book about the incident in April and hopes to find a publisher for it.
“I don’t really think about what happened,” Meyer says. “I think often about what I can do with what happened.”
CURIOUS? Tell us what past Washington Post story or person in the news you want us to update. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-334-4208.