UC Davis administration should have prevented pepper spray incident, report finds

UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike pepper sprays demonstrators who had linked arms and were preventing attempts by the police to remove arrested protesters.
Jasna Hodzic/Courtesy
UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike pepper sprays demonstrators who had linked arms and were preventing attempts by the police to remove arrested protesters.

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A UC Davis task force assigned to review police action during the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident released its 190-page report on the UC Davis website at noon Wednesday, following weeks of delay and litigation.

The task force, led by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, concludes “the pepper spraying incident that took place on Nov. 18, 2011 should have and could have been avoided.” The report critiques administrative decision-making, places individual responsibility upon UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and faults campus police for failing to properly plan for the “intended action” of the protestors.

According to the report, Lt. John Pike, who pepper sprayed the students, “bears primary responsibility for the objectively unreasonable decision to use pepper spray.”

In a statement released Wednesday, UC President Mark Yudof said the report “confirms what we have known from the start” and “represents a significant step in the right direction.”

“We can and must do better,” Yudof said in the statement. “I look forward to working with Chancellor Katehi to repair the damage caused by this incident and to move this great campus forward.”

The report was released after an agreement was struck between the university police officers’ union and UC attorneys Tuesday, in which Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that police officers’ names — except for those of Pike and then-Police Chief Annette Spicuzza — could be redacted from the report. He also ruled that a critique of the officers’ actions should remain in the report, despite the union’s objections.

A town hall meeting will take place at UC Davis at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the report and will be webcasted on the campus’ website.

Read the full report below.

UCD Pepper Spray Report (Text)

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  • Concerned

    I registered just for the purpose of responding to ill-informed comments.  To those who want to claim the conclusions of the report are merely to be expected from a “liberal” judge:  perhaps you could take the time to read the Kroll report.  Kroll is headed by former police chief William Bratton (not a “liberal”) and his report reaches similar conclusions. 

    • Guest

       Would you kindly provide a link for the Kroll report, I’ve attempted to Google it and did not find the actual report.

      • Concerned

        It’s in the report linked above, beginning on p. 32

  • Guest

    This is complete bullshit.  For anyone who disagrees with pepper spray as a non-lethal means of getting protestors to disperse, can you please suggest an alternative method?  It’s not like politely asking them to leave does the trick, so what else?!

    • Engineeringstudent

      citing them for the violation as stipulated under law.

    • Guest

       So you’re saying that inflicting severe pain on college kids SITTING ON THE GROUND who are threatening no one is better???? I mean, pepper spray is better than the “Kent State” alternative, but the actual question is why the hell you NEED to “disperse” people sitting on the ground in protest with force.

    • student

      maybe they should try beating students with batons. oh wait…

  • Calipenguin

    Cruz Reynoso is an old liberal who got booted out of California’s Supreme Court along with Rose Bird.  It’s no coincidence that he will side with liberal protesters.  His commission blames the UC Davis police for not checking the IDs of the protesters, as if a student resisting arrest deserves gentler handling than a non-student resisting arrest.  The commission blames campus police for not paying for an overnight police protection unit for the Occupy campers, as if camping overnight were not a direct violation of campus rules.  Most importantly, the commission assigns blame without saying what other police tools were available.  Aside from using batons, which the Occupy Cal people complained about, what other non-lethal tools can the police use to disperse stubborn overnight campers?

    • Engineeringstudent

      cite and fine them for prohibited camping as it reads in the law books

    • Guest

      Do I even have to dispute the logical fallacy of your assertion or are you smart enough to pick it up on your own?

      Additionally, you conveniently omit the fact that the Reynoso report is — wait for it — predicated on the Kroll report. Any clue who runs Kroll? Former LAPD Chief William Bratton. The man can hardly be termed a bleeding heart liberal, if you have any recollection at all of his tenure in LA.

      Finally, if you’d bothered to read the report, you’d have read that neither the police, nor the administration had a firm grasp of what section of the CPC the students may have been violating, i.e., they weren’t sure any laws were being broken.