UC Davis students, alumni file lawsuit in response to pepper spray incident

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Several UC Davis students and alumni filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the campus in response to the Nov. 18 police use of pepper spray during a campus protest.

Seventeen students and two alumni represented by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento. The lawsuit demands “compensatory and punitive damages” for the use of pepper spray and charges UC Davis police and campus officials with violating the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The students and alumni — who were personally involved in the campus protest — also allege that they were unlawfully arrested following the protest.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, UC Davis student David Buscho, said in an ACLU press release that the protest was his first demonstration.

“So many of my friends can barely make ends meet and then another tuition hike was proposed,” he said in the press release. “We had no idea there would be police in riot gear or that we would be pepper-sprayed because we were making our voices heard.”

UC Davis spokesperson Barry Shiller said in an email that the campus could not comment on the details of the lawsuit.

“Attorneys for the university and the plaintiffs have been talking,” he said in the email. “We hope those conversations continue. In the meantime, we’ve not seen the lawsuit and therefore aren’t in a position to comment on details.”

Damian Ortellado is the lead higher education reporter.