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UC Davis police Lt. John Pike pepper-sprays student protesters who were blocking a pathway on the UCD Quad on Nov. 18, 2011. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

UC Davis

Pepper-spray cop gets $38K in workers’ comp

By From page A1 | October 24, 2013

The former campus cop seen in a viral video pepper-spraying student protesters will receive workers’ compensation totaling $38,056.

John Pike, 40, of Roseville, reportedly suffered depression and anxiety brought on by death threats he and his family received after the Nov. 18, 2011, confrontation at an Occupy UC Davis encampment.

Administrative Law Judge Harter approved the settlement agreement between Pike and the University of California on Oct. 16.

“This case has been resolved in accordance with state law and processes on workers’ compensation,” UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said in an email message. Sacramento attorney Jason Marcus, who represented Pike, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Bernie Goldsmith, a Davis lawyer supportive of the protesters, said that the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”

The state’s Disability Evaluation Unit determines permanent disability ratings based on doctors’ reports.

Richard Lieberman, a Piedmont psychiatrist acting as the agreed-upon expert, rated Pike’s disability as “moderate,” according to a Jan. 5 psychiatric report released by the state Department of Industrial Relations in response to a public records request.

Pike faced “continuing and significant internal and external stress with respect to resolving and solving the significant emotional upheavals that have occurred” in his life and had not shown evidence of substantial improvement, concluded Lieberman, who spoke with Pike twice in 2012.

A second psychiatrist, Bernard Bauer of San Francisco, blindly scored Pike’s responses on a battery of psychological tests.

Now, Pike will be paid more money than those he pepper-sprayed.

In January, UCD agreed to pay $1 million to settle a federal suit. Twenty-one plaintiffs who were sprayed or arrested were to receive $30,000 each. Another 15 who also had claims approved were to be paid $6,666 apiece.

Chief Matt Carmichael fired Pike in July 2012, following eight months of paid administrative leave.

During that time, separate investigations came to different conclusions about how Pike responded when seated students, with their arms locked together, would not clear a path for officers leading away handcuffed protesters.

A public task force, led by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, faulted both police and administrators for their roles in incident. Its investigation found that Pike did not need to use the pepper spray, at all, and that he used a spray not sanctioned for use by the department and that he doused the protesters from an unsafe distance.

An internal affairs investigation resulted in a panel calling only for Pike’s suspension, according to a confidential report obtained by the Sacramento Bee.

At the time of his psychiatric evaluation, Pike was appealing his termination. UCD has not rehired him.

The former Marine will receive retirement benefits for his 11 years of campus employment. He was being paid an annual salary of $121,680 at the time he was fired.

Pike also ordered a second officer, Alexander Lee, to spray protesters. Citing state law and university policy, UCD has revealed no more about Lee. He also ceased to be employed by the campus in July 2012.

Carmichael’s predecessor, Annette Spicuzza, retired during the pepper-spray investigation.

UCD and its Police Department have undertaken reforms aimed at preventing similar confrontations with student protesters. This month, the campus has hosted public meetings gathering feedback on both a draft freedom of expression policy and a plan for an independent civilian oversight board for the department.

— 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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