After winning a court case in which The Sacramento Bee and The Los Angeles Times pushed the University of California to release the names of the officers involved in the November 2011 pepper-spray incident at UC Davis, details have emerged about the officers’ mindset.
Quotes from 14 different campus police officers paint a picture of a very tense situation, in which many of those sent to oversee the removal of tents from the Quad became scared and nervous for their safety.
Concerns were voiced by many officers that the student protesters were turning aggressive. According the The Bee, Sgt. Danny Sheffield said, “The tone of the crowd that, that turned into, frankly, a, a lynch-mob type mentality. They, they were trying to secure the release of the arrestees by holding us hostage. … There were two to three male subjects in the crowd that I directly observed pulling what appeared to be rocks out of their pockets and handing ‘em out to people.”
Describing the crowd’s demeanor, Officer Ruben Arias explained, “I was actually frightened. I was actually frightened in the sense of I didn’t know what this crowd was doing, what they’re capable of, and it wasn’t the peaceful crowd that everyone thought it was. They were really agitated.”
Other officers described being “nervous,” “surrounded” and “trapped.”
The Bee’s report did not include any quotes from Lt. John Pike, who was dismissed by UCD for pepper spraying seated students in the face.
— Reach Tanya Perez at 530-747-8056 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya