Some of report on UC Davis pepper spray incident can be released, judge rules

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OAKLAND — Parts of a task force report reviewing the Nov. 18 UC Davis pepper spray incident can be released, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled at a hearing Friday.

After contention over the report’s release between the UC and a union representing UC police, Judge Evelio Grillo enabled UC officials to release parts of the report by denying portions of an injunction request from the union. However, he also ruled that several parts of the report be kept from being released pending further review.

The report was originally scheduled for public release March 6 at UC Davis, but the Federated University Police Officers Association requested a delay of the report’s release, claiming that disclosure of the report would reveal confidential personnel information.

After the hearing, UC General Counsel Charles Robinson said he will consult with the UC and former California Supreme Court Justice and task force leader Cruz Reynoso about whether to release parts of the report or wait until it is available in its entirety.

“We need to have some opportunity to see what the judge said in his order today,” Robinson said. “It may or may not make sense to release the report in a piecemeal fashion.”

A few other sections of the report had not been reviewed by the union’s lawyers, and will be the subject of a hearing March 28 in which Grillo will rule on the remaining parts of the report still under seal.

At the hearing Friday, the parties agreed to push back the April 2 deadline to file for an appeal to April 16.

UC President Mark Yudof originally requested that consulting company Kroll Associates prepare a report on the pepper spray incident. In a Dec. 5 statement, Yudof said the task force headed by Reynoso would review the findings of the Kroll report and “based on available information, assign responsibility for the events of Nov. 18.”

According to court documents, Reynoso’s report includes the Kroll report as an appendix. The hearing chiefly centered around the Kroll report, as association lawyers argued that portions of the report compromised a peace officer’s personnel record that must be kept confidential under state law.

UC lawyers said during the hearing that interviews with officers in the Kroll report did not need to be confidential, since they were granted administrative immunity and the interviews were not part of an internal investigation. But association lawyers contended that the Kroll report was an “end run around” internal investigations.

Robinson said he was content with the results of the hearing.

“We are making some progress towards our overall objective of trying to get the entire report produced so the public can see what we have concluded,” Robinson said.

Union lawyers said they were also optimistic about the ruling.

“As of today, all of the sections that we requested be held back were held back,” said Michael Morguess, a lawyer for the union. “So, (we’re) really happy.”

 

Damian Ortellado is the lead higher education reporter.