UC Davis police Lt. John Pike pepper-sprays nonviolent protesters seated on the UCD Quad on Friday, Nov. 18. Release of a UCD task force's recommendations about the incident has been delayed as the union that represents campus police seeks a temporary restraining order today in court. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

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Task force holds findings due to union legal action

By From page A1 | March 06, 2012

The task force looking into the pepper-spraying of Occupy UC Davis protesters has called off the planned release of its findings because of pending legal action by the union representing campus police.

In a letter to the other 12 members of the task force, its chair, former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, wrote that university counsel had advised him to hold the release of the task force’s recommendations, as well as the fact-finding report by the Kroll security firm on which they are based, “due to the uncertainty created by this legal development.”

The task force had been scheduled to release its findings and the Kroll report on the UCD website at noon today, then host a 3 p.m. public meeting at the UCD Conference Center.

On Monday, however, the Federated University Police Officers Association informed the UC Office of the President of its plans to request a temporary restraining order this morning in Alameda County Superior Court.

“I was very frustrated to receive this news today. However, let me assure you that I am undeterred in my commitment to release the complete and unredacted work of the task force, a view shared by (UC) President (Mark) Yudof,” Reynoso wrote.

Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, incident commander Lt. John Pike and a third officer whom UCD has refused to name remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of investigations into the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying of about a dozen seated, unarmed protesters and the arrest of 10 others.

The release of the task force report that Chancellor Linda Katehi asked be completed by Dec. 21 has been pushed back at least three times. In a letter to the campus Monday evening, Katehi said she was “tremendously disappointed,” but expressed hope this latest delay will be brief.

In January, Reynoso said the task force had been slowed because of negotiations with the union over which officers would speak to investigators. In the end, an agreement gave investigators the green light to speak to all of the 35 or so officers on the scene — except the three under investigation.

No specifics of the investigation were revealed during talks with the union, UCOP spokesperson Dianne Klein said on Monday, “but counsel made clear that names were named.”

John Bakhit, an attorney for the police union, told the Los Angeles Times that state law requires both the names of officers involved and information taken from interviews with them to be removed from the documents. The union will not try to block report conclusions based on other evidence, he said.

“They can give their 2 cents all they want but not in the manner in which they did it,” Bakhit told the Times.

In a statement, Yudof, who assembled the task force of students, staff, faculty and alumni at Katehi’s request, said that he had asked the UC general counsel’s office “to do everything in its power in court to turn back this attempt to stifle these reports.”

Yudof called the work of the task force and investigators “a fundamental stepping stone needed to carry the UC Davis campus past the events of Friday, Nov. 18.”

“The entire UC Davis community deserves a fully transparent and unexpurgated accounting of the incidents in question,” he said.

Katehi said that a separate an internal affairs investigation into complaints of officer misconduct will be completed “soon.” That investigation would provide the basis for any personnel actions concerning the accused officer, she said.

An investigation by the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department and Yolo County Attorney’s Office that could yield criminal charges against police remains ongoing.

“We are interested in learning what the experts determined as to the use of force issues involved in the incident,” Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral told The Enterprise on Monday. “Our investigation will continue as we sort through the information provided in the reports.”

— Enterprise staff writer Lauren Keene contributed to this report. 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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