Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Settlement pending for ‘moderately’ disabled Pike

UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses a bullhorn to address Occupy UC Davis protesters on the Quad on Nov. 18, 2011. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

From page A1 | August 15, 2013 |

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 cgolden@davisenterprise.net 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

Discussion | 11 comments

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  • Brian RileyAugust 14, 2013 - 6:24 pm

    If he feels no remorse, then he's just plain dishonest. He used an unauthorized grade of pepper spray and beyond that he used it at an inappropriate range. There can be no rationale for that, even if we set aside the issue of culpability and violating the law.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Fred HarveyAugust 15, 2013 - 7:50 am

    Pike is going to get a free ride for his self-inflicted wounds? Based upon the psychiatric reports Pike must have been a psychological mess going into the spraying incident so where was the university in assessing his ongoing suitability to be a "peace" officer? For some reason all of this does not pass the smell test. So the taxpayers are going to foot the bill so that this clown can luxuriate with disability largess? Will wonders never cease!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JohnAugust 15, 2013 - 5:36 pm

    It would have been interesting if this had somehow gone to trial. Everyone has a tale to tell.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Brian RileyAugust 16, 2013 - 8:51 am

    @John: Any way you look at it, the pepper spraying was plainly illegal, the District Attorney's refusal to prosecute notwithstanding. All this is clear from the court's decision in Young v. County of Los Angeles. If a higher-up intimated to Pike that he should use pepper spray, even if that higher-up intimated that he should use the unauthorized grade, then that doesn't like Pike off the hook, it would only mean that both people (Pike and the higher-up) were incredibly wrong in the decisions they made. Pike obviously knew that the pretext of the protesters supposedly "encircling" and supposedly trapping the police officers inside the circle was just that: a thinly veiled pretext, and a poor one at that, and it didn't fool the Reynoso committee. It didn't even fool the Kroll investigators, who would have been predisposed to cut Pike as much slack as possible in their conclusions and analysis.

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  • joelSeptember 01, 2013 - 6:08 am

    i'm pretty convinced had protesters dispersed as told to by officer pike, none of us would be discussing the matter, today.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Brian RileySeptember 01, 2013 - 6:55 am

    @joel: I'm sorry, Joel, but your comment shows you are unfamiliar with the issues. In a free society, the police do not have the right to interfere with free speech. That's what the First Amendment is all about. The Reynoso Report shows that Pike simply had no legal rationale for ordering the protesters to disburse. If we followed your logic, we'd be living in a dictatorship.

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  • navalatorSeptember 01, 2013 - 7:19 am

    I think that the proper retort to Joel would be "What planet are you living on?" Blaming the victims is a classic ignorant right wing nut ploy.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • joelSeptember 01, 2013 - 7:55 am

    the rule of unintended consequences... the students extorted money from the university for injuries they, the students were/are responsible for incurring. and now, the law enforcement officer is getting disability. participation trophies for everyone!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Brian RileySeptember 01, 2013 - 11:39 am

    No, the University is responsible for the mess because Pike was the aggressor and initiator. That's why the University agreed to pay the settlement. That's not a "trophy" for the protesters, that's justice.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • navalatorSeptember 01, 2013 - 6:32 pm

    Poor Joel. He just does not understand Constitutional Law. Or he is so wing nut brainwashed that any attempt at education will be wasted. OR, he is a closet Christofascist.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Bob PineappleAugust 20, 2013 - 2:20 pm

    The fact that the WC board found Pike's WC to have any merit whatsoever is outrageous. That the payor (Sedgwick, not Sedwick) and the University aren't doing everything to overturn the finding of compensability is the problem. At the least I would have liked to see it go to court. That the University is negotiating with this man also clearly shows us that UCD is about protecting itself and not serving our community.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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