UPDATE: UAF student angry at Polar Express fee, gets into fight with officer

Heather Bryant/Sun Star Reporter
April 6, 2012

April 10,2012 – This story has been updated to include the name of the student who was arrested.

While many students don’t like to pay extra fees, one’s reluctance to pay for a replacement Polar Express card ended with a UAF police officer using a Taser to subdue him.

At approximately 4 p.m. on Friday, April 6, Officer Alan Keeler responded to a report of an unruly student who threatened Polar Express Office staff.

Kevin H. Legrismith, 20, of Fairbanks had been issued a temporary Polar Express card, which had expired. He became angry with staff when he was told there was a fee for a new card, UAF Police Chief Sean McGee said.

Keeler told Legrismith to sit on the couch while Keeler interviewed staff. As the officer spoke to a female employee, Legrismith jumped off the couch and came toward him.

The student was upset at what the employee was telling the officer, McGee said. But at that point the officer didn’t know if Legrismith was coming at him or the woman. Keeler told the him to sit down and a physical altercation followed. During the struggle, the officer’s Taser hit the ground and broke into pieces. Legrismith wrestled with the officer over the Taser, McGee said. The officer then used the Taser in an “unconventional way.”

“He had to use it like a stun gun to get the student on his stomach,” McGee said. Normally an officer operates a Taser at a distance from the subject. Prongs are ejected from the device. The prongs emit electrical current that disrupt voluntary muscle control.

During the altercation, a male student stepped forward and offered to assist the officer.

“We appreciated that,” McGee said.

However, at that point the officer’s radio informed him that additional police were coming to assist. Keeler held Legrismith down until backup arrived.

Police took Legrismith to the Fairbanks Correctional Center and charged him with misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

“I can’t remember the last time an officer had to use a Taser on a student,” McGee said.

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7 Responses

  1. Amelia Cooper says:

    The Polar Express office made me pay for a new card when mine stopped working unexpectedly this year. It was nothing I did–I’d only used the card for getting into my dorm, eating at the cafeteria, and occasionally buying chips from vending machines. But, they told me it was my fault, that I had treated the card recklessly…and I needed one if I wanted to eat and sleep. It was only $15, but that’s a lot for somebody who’s never seen four digits. I empathize with his frustration, because the Polar Express office can be unreasonable, and it seems like most people who work with us (the students) in regards to financial counsel are condescending and emotionless. Honestly, I often feel discriminated against because of my age. Making threats and attacking an officer isn’t an appropriate way to handle that frustration though, and this whole situation only serves to reinforce the callous way we’re treated. I don’t know what he was trying to prove, but being this tousle doesn’t make this student a martyr, just a sad picture of emotionally volatility.

  2. Tyler says:

    Agreed, Amelia.
    I don’t really approve of the charges either… with the amount that these cards get used, especially for on-campus residents, charging us for damages just seems like fishing for money and I know a lot of people don’t really appreciate it.
    But, whether or not the fees are approved of, this student’s response was both ridiculous and unnecessary… Fees are not THAT big of a deal, especially not enough to warrant jail time.

  3. Karin says:

    I think that the first replacement for damages used to be free. People were likely abusing that though and trying to get two so they could get their friends into their dorms when they weren’t there. Now I know that the damaged/lost/stolen card gets deactivated and with a fee of $10 for a damaged card replacement there’s enough of an incentive to not abuse the system.
    As to this guy. At least they ran into him before he had to go to the business office and talk to them about how much money is owed there.

  4. Tim says:

    curious, does anyone know the name of the student?

    and as to the cards yes the new card is removed, however for $250 you can purchase the machine to make new magnetic stripes on a card. for some reason a charge of $25 to make what amounts to a 10 cent card seems ridiculous to me.

  5. Jeanie says:

    http://www.newsminer.com/view/full_story/18196016/article-Public-safety-report-%E2%80%94-April-11? Tim, the News Miner rarely withholds names.

    Regardless of what ridiculous prices they charge, people need to keep in mind that there is nothing the employees there can do to ease this cost. I seriously doubt that they set the prices, and short of risking their own jobs by throwing out discounts whenever a student with low income comes in, they can’t change it. Anger and frustration should be directed at someone who can actually do something, not at the people who are quite possibly just as bad off.

  6. Tim says:

    interesting, I’m curious about more details about this. i’m tempted to go to the court on may 30th and see what there is to see in regards to this issue.

  7. Wes says:

    There is video up on youtube now too.

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