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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Tentative deal reached in pepper-spray suit

As a crowd of onlookers gathers, UC Davis police Lt. John Pike pepper-sprays a row of student protesters who were seated on a walkway on the Quad on Nov. 18, 2011. The students have reached a tentative settlement with the university. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

By
From page A1 | September 06, 2012 |

The University of California Board of Regents will decide next Thursday whether to approve a settlement with Occupy UC Davis protesters who were pepper-sprayed by police. The regents will meet at UC San Francisco Mission Bay.

Terms of the agreement will remain confidential until both sides seek approval for it in federal court.

The lawsuit, filed in February by attorneys for 21 protesters, most of them students, accused UC Davis and its Police Department of improper training and supervision of its officers resulting in the use of “unacceptable and excessive force” violating the protesters’ state and federal rights.

In addition to compensatory and punitive damages, the protesters are seeking an injunction barring a similar police response to nonviolent protests.

On Nov. 18, 10 of the protesters were arrested and 11 others were pepper-sprayed when police marched onto the Quad to remove a small, day-old encampment.

The students and alumni were protesting rising tuition and privatizing of UC and what they saw as the consolidation of power, both nationally and within the university, by a shrinking few.

Following a flurry of investigations and reports, Lt. John Pike and a second officer, identified by The Enterprise as Alexander Lee, are no longer employed by the university. Both Pike and Lee sprayed the protesters who were seated, arms linked, on a walkway on the UCD Quad.

UCD Police Chief Annette Spicuzza has retired.

Spicuzza, Pike, Lee and the other officers at the scene, some three dozen in all, are defendants in the suit. Others include Chancellor Linda Katehi, Provost Ralph Hexter, Vice Chancellor John Meyer and former Vice Chancellor Fred Wood.

A variety of reforms on campus, including within the Police Department, are planned to prevent a repeat of the incident, which gained worldwide publicity after videos of the pepper-spraying went viral online.

The UC system is also preparing systemwide policies for handing nonviolent protests.

Among the accusations made by protesters:

* A combat injury suffered previously by one of the protesters who was a military veteran was aggravated when he was pulled down and had his wrists zip-tied and that medical assistance was denied to him;

* That jailers were not equipped to cut zip ties, some of which were so tight that they restricted blood flow; and

* That the department should have fired Pike because he was unqualified for his position.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs include Mark Merin of West Sacramento and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

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Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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