Crime, Fire + Courts

Pepper-spray report delayed again

By From page A1 | February 17, 2012

A task force examining the pepper-spraying of unarmed protesters by UC Davis police has again delayed the release of its findings.

The task force is now looking at “early March” for the unveiling of its recommendations, according to a letter from its chair, former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, to UC President Mark Yudof released to the media on Thursday.

Reynoso cited no specific reason for the delay, except to say that the task force “believes that it is imperative to have a complete understanding of the events that took place on that afternoon” of Nov. 18, when about a dozen Occupy UC Davis protesters were pepper-sprayed and 10 others arrested.

The task force has “maintained an aggressive schedule,” meeting five times to review information compiled by Kroll Security, a firm headed by former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton hired by Yudof to investigate what happened on the Quad, according to Reynoso.

“As members of the UC Davis community, we are mindful of and share the intense desire of faculty, staff and students to have trust and confidence restored. Therefore, while we are trying to be swift in releasing the report, we have an obligation to the campus community not to be hurried,” writes Reynoso, a UCD law professor emeritus, in the letter, dated Feb. 15.

The task force of 13 students, faculty, alumni and staff will make recommendations to Yudof and Chancellor Linda Katehi that will “include improvements to police procedures, command protocols, and campus policies and oversight structures that will help ensure that the rights and safety of nonviolent protesters and the entire campus community are protected,” in Reynoso’s words.

Katehi originally asked Yudof to assemble a task force that would provide recommendation within 30 days of the incident. UC officials soon pushed that date back, saying Kroll needed more time to do a thorough job.

Reynoso first set a goal of the final week of January or first week of February for the task force report’s release, only to push that date back because of negotiations between University of California lawyers and the Federated University Police Officers Association over which officers could be questioned by investigators.

Eventually, an agreement was struck allowing questioning of any of the about three dozen officers involved in removing an Occupy encampment but who are not facing scrutiny over possible wrongdoing.

Off-limits as part of that agreement are UCD police Chief Annette Spicuzza, Lt. John Pike, the incident commander, and a second unnamed officer, all three of whom have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of about a half-dozen probes into what happened on the Quad.

Plans call for Bratton’s fact-finding report to be released in tandem with the recommendation by the task force.

To date, none of about a half-dozen investigations into the pepper-spray incident, including a criminal investigation by the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, has come to a resolution.

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office concluded there was insufficient evidence to file charges against the arrested protesters. UCD officials also had requested that charges not be filed.

— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or (530) 747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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