UC Davis Pepper Spray Report: “… should and could have been prevented.”

by on April 12, 2012 · 1 comment

in California, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Education, Media

UC Davis Police Lt John Pike pepper sprays sitting students, Nov. 18, 2011.

The long-awaited report about the pepper spraying of UC Davis students by campus police last November is finally out.  And the report doesn’t waste words:

“The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented.”

The report, by a task force appointed by the university and led by retired state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, himself a former UC Davis prof, determined that UC Davis campus police violated their own policy and used bad judgment in pepper spraying the non-violent, sitting student protesters.  And it said that university leaders really screwed up their handling of the protest and its aftermath.

We all saw the video of campus cop John Pike pepper spraying the students directly into their faces as they crouched together on the sidewalk of the campus.

Here’s more of what the Report said:

  • It strongly rebutted campus police claims that the Occupy demonstrators who had pitched tents on a UC Davis quad posed a violent threat;
  • it said administrators wrongly assumed that many protesters were off-campus troublemakers;
  • the report outlined “a cascading series of errors” and poorly timed efforts to evict the campers;
  • it questioned the legal basis for the campus operation against the demonstrators;

The Report also countered the officer’s claims who did the pepper spraying:

  • It questioned the belief by UC Davis Lt. John Pike that the spraying was  the”most appropriate” tool on hand to deal with what they described as an unruly mob encircling the officers.
  • It said: “On balance, there is little factual basis supporting Lt. Pike’s belief that he was trapped by the protesters or that his officers were prevented from leaving the Quad. Further, there is little evidence that any protesters attempted to use violence against the police.”
  • Pike  lacked the proper cause to spray students;
  • He also broke police rules by using a large and high-pressure canister that is not supposed to be deployed any closer than six feet from the intended targets;

The Task Force was very critical also of  UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s leadership during the protests:

  • Her leadership was viewed as inadequate; it stated that Katehi should have made it clear that she wanted police to use little or no force. Her failure to do so “substantially undermined the goal of avoiding a physical confrontation.”
  • Katehi was taken to task for pushing the campus cops to evict students in the late afternoon that day – the cops wanted to wait until night time with less spectators.
  • The report criticized Campus Police Chief Annette Spicuzza for overseeing “a dysfunctional chain of command,”

The LA Times observes that:

… the report did not make any specific personnel recommendations but called on UC and UC Davis to review its police rules and training and for the campus to set up a better system for making decisions about protests.

Reynoso, a former UC Davis law professor, told reporters he expects policies to change. “We need to do a lot of work on this campus. Frankly, our report is pretty blunt about these things,” he said.

Pike, Spicuzza and an unidentified officer have been on paid administrative leave, and they and others still face a departmental investigation that could lead to disciplinary action.

Katehi, chancellor since 2009, faced calls this winter for her resignation, but she has apologized and beat back an attempt by some faculty to pass a no-confidence vote against her.

UC system President Mark G. Yudof made it clear Wednesday that he wanted Katehi to keep her job. …

Ten protesters were arrested in the November incident, but the Yolo County district attorney subsequently said no charges would be filed against them because of a lack of evidence. In February, 19 students and alumni who were sprayed or arrested filed a federal lawsuit claiming violations of their free speech and assembly rights.

Meanwhile, a separate committee headed by UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley is looking at wider issues about how campuses should react to future student protests. That group’s recommendations are expected to be released in the next month or two, officials said.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jack April 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Well good, I am glad the final report is out. Now the U.C. Regents can go ahead and promote Pike to Chief of Campus police and Katehi to Regent. Bad policeman, bad chancellor.


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