The former campus police lieutenant who pepper-sprayed protesters has tried to get his badge back and studied for a fallback career as an EMT, according to documents filed as part of his workers’ compensation claim.
John Pike has suffered depression and anxiety brought on by death threats to him and his family that followed the Nov. 18, 2011, confrontation at an Occupy UC Davis encampment on the Quad, according to a psychiatric report released by the State Department of Industrial Relations in response to a public records request.
A settlement between the 40-year-old Pike’s attorney and the University of California is pending. No final deal had been struck as of Wednesday afternoon.
Pat Bailey, a UCD spokeswoman, said in an email message that “the university expects that, in accordance with the (Division of Workers’ Compensation) rating, John Pike will receive financial compensation.”
The state’s Disability Evaluation Unit determines permanent disability ratings based on doctors’ reports. In a Jan. 5 report, Richard Lieberman, a Piedmont psychiatrist acting as the agreed-upon expert, rated Pike’s disability as “moderate.”
He 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, Lieberman concluded.
Pike’s social functioning has been “significantly handicapped because of the events at work” and he had problems sleeping and concentrating, according to the report. Lieberman recommended ongoing psychiatric treatment.
As of June 24, at issue between Pike and the UC were: compensation rate, permanent and temporary disability, rehabilitation and self-procured and future medical treatments.
A workers’ compensation claim form submitted in July 2012, signed by Pike, describes his injury and the body part affected only as “Stressed / stomach, whole body.”
Lieberman’s report provides more details about the condition of Pike, who was “still dealing with intense anger, self-esteem issues and depressive reactivity.”
The psychiatrist spoke with Pike on Aug. 8, 2012, and again, for 2 1/2 hours, on Dec. 18, 2012. A second psychiatrist, Bernard Bauer of San Francisco, blindly scored Pike’s responses on a battery of psychological tests.
At the time, Pike was appealing his termination, the documents reveal. UCD has not rehired him. He also was taking part in an EMT program, scheduled to be completed in January, and said he would pursue classes as a nursing assistant and registered nurse.
Pike was “chronically and moderately sleep-deprived,” sleeping two or three hours at a time and “easily awakened at night by dogs and the sound of a river.”
“Before, he was afraid to go to sleep because of the death threats,” Lieberman wrote.
Pike told him that he has received no new threats or media calls since June 2012.
He also felt easily fatigued, he told the psychiatrist, and suffered from alternating diarrhea and constipation consistent with exhaustion.
Lieberman agreed with Pike that an earlier diagnosis by a psychologist of post-traumatic stress disorder was incorrect and that his previous treatment had been inadequate.
Pike had met regularly for therapy sessions with the psychologist or, more often, a graduate student working in his office, whom Pike described as “a “nice young woman with a skill set that is only superficial.”
Earlier, he stopped seeing another psychiatrist who he said was “only interested in prescribing medications” — which Pike resisted because he felt it would hurt his chances of returning to work.
Wrote Lieberman, “He disliked the suggestion by (the psychiatrist) that he take various teas and do medication and to even have the patient apologize to the various parties, which clinically makes no sense since the patient has not felt guilty about any actions that he did, but was in fact unhappy about the unintended consequences which followed.”
The tests found Pike suffered from “high middle levels of depression” and “anxiety and a predisposition to anxiety.” He had “middle levels” of self-esteem and a “middle likelihood of chronic underlying anger.”
“I would not preclude this patient from returning to his usual and customary job duties, however, I do concur … that re-returning him to a position of high public exposure and potential media attention would certainly be counterproductive, and from this he should be protected,” Lieberman wrote.
He found that “90 percent” of Pike’s mental and physical problems could be attributed to the fallout from the pepper-spray incident, with the balance stemming from stress caused by a divorce earlier in 2011 and a subsequent custody dispute.
A tentative agreement on Pike’s claim had been reached by July 16, but the attorney for Sedgwick CMS, the Kentucky-based administrator for the university’s workers’ compensation self-insurance program, was granted a continuance because of a scheduling conflict.
Occupy protesters had planned to gather outside the rescheduled hearing before an administrative law judge in Sacramento on Tuesday. That hearing was canceled at the request of attorneys from both sides because they had reached a settlement, according to the documents.
At the time of Lieberman’s report, Pike was living in Roseville, with his parents when his children visited, and in a friend’s in-law apartment. He had not received unemployment benefits as of May 2013.
Pike was fired by Chief Matt Carmichael in July 2012. That followed eight months of paid administrative leave during which separate investigations came to different conclusions about Pike’s pepper-spraying of the unarmed protesters.
A public task force found administrators and other police in the wrong, with Pike using a grade of pepper spray not sanctioned for use by the department, using it at too close a range and for ordering a second officer, Alexander Lee, forward to also spray protesters. (Lee also was not employed by UCD as of July 2012.)
A confidential internal affairs investigation, details of which were first reported by the Sacramento Bee, resulted in a panel calling only for Pike’s suspension.
Pike will receive retirement benefits for his 11 years employed at UCD. The former Marine had an annual salary of $121,680 at the time he was fired.
— Reach Cory Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden