Nashua Police Facing Abuse Charges

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The Newton, Mass., woman on whom police used a Taser in the middle of the Pheasant Lane Mall on Tuesday says she did nothing wrong and plans to file a complaint against police, according to her uncle.

David Chen, owner of Thousand Crane II on West Pearl Street in Nashua, said his niece, Xao Jei Li, 44, was treated “brutally” and believes the manager who kicked her out of the Apple Store gave police bad information.

“My niece, she’s very upset,” Chen said. “She’s never been treated this bad her whole life. She would rather die because she’s so ashamed. She said she did nothing wrong.”

Li blamed a language barrier for the confrontation outside the store, which happened in front of shoppers packing the busy mall. She told WMUR-TV she left the Apple Store after speaking to the manager, but she wasn’t sure what he said to her. She said she doesn’t know why police were called. Her interview was translated by her middle- school-age daughter.

A chilling YouTube video was posted shortly after the confrontation. The video shows two Nashua police officers holding down and struggling with Li. Eventually, the crackle of the Taser and Li’s screams can be heard echoing around the busy mall.

Chen posted Li’s bail on Tuesday. He said he tried to pick up the phones Li was trying to buy, but was unable to. He said it’s common for Chinese people to buy multiple iPhones and send them to family and friends in China, where the newest version of the phone isn’t available.

“She’s not the only one buying a lot of iPhones,” Chen said. “It’s not illegal. It’s not criminal.”

Chen said Li has bruises on her wrists and shoulders and burns from the Taser on her lower back.

Chen said Li wasn’t videotaping inside the store Tuesday. She did on Friday, he said, and was asked to leave. On Tuesday, she was there to pick up some iPhones she had ordered and paid for online.

Chen said he’s acting as a spokesman for his niece because she moved to the United States from Shanghai three years ago and speaks little English.

“She couldn’t understand what they’re saying,” Chen said. “I can understand the struggle, the frustration.”

Police say Li knew exactly what they were telling her and simply refused to comply.

Nashua Police Chief John Seusing said Li had been asked to leave the Apple Store a few days earlier, and when the manager spotted her videotaping customers Tuesday, the manager asked a Nashua police officer working at the store to help escort Li out of the shop.

Seusing said Li immediately asked “Why?” when she was asked to leave and then the officer told her she was being arrested for refusing to leave.

“It was very clear to the officers that she knew exactly what was going on,” Seusing said. “The officer didn’t think for a second that she was having difficulty understanding what she was being asked to do.”

On Friday, police said they had completed their standard review after all uses of force and decided the officers followed department policy.

“It never looks good to see that, and we understand that, but Officer (Joseph) Rousseau spent about 15 minutes trying to get her in handcuffs and was unable to do so,” Deputy Chief Scott Howe said.

Howe said the use of the Taser is dramatic, and certainly painful, but is intended to prevent more serious injury. He said the officers used the Taser to avoid pulling harder on Li’s arms and potentially injuring her wrist or shoulder.

“The fact remains she was given ample opportunity to comply and refused to do so,” he said.

The use of the Taser is equivalent to the use of pepper spray, technically called OC spray, on the police’s “Use-of-Force Continuum.” The officers used the Taser instead of the OC spray because of the number of people in the area, Howe said.

Li was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest and immediately made bail, Seusing said.

Chen said Li will be arraigned on the misdemeanor charges on Jan. 15, and he worries she will lose her green card if she is convicted. He said Li wants to pursue charges against police.

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