Task force report on UC Davis pepper spray incident will likely be released in April

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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Following court battles between the UC and a union representing UC police, the head of a task force charged with investigating the Nov. 18 UC Davis pepper spray incident sent a letter to UC President Mark Yudof Tuesday stating that the task force’s report will most likely be released in the first week of April.

The report on the findings of the task force — led by former California Supreme Court justice Cruz Reynoso — was originally scheduled for release on March 6 but has been delayed due to a legal request from the Federated University Police Officers Association. The police officers’ union claims that disclosure of the report would reveal confidential personnel information.

At a hearing Friday, Alameda Court Superior Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that UC officials could 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. Both parties are scheduled to return to court March 28, and it is likely that the entirety of the report could be released after that hearing, Reynoso states in the letter.

In the letter, Reynoso states that members of the task force objected to releasing portions of the report in a piecemeal fashion and would withdraw their support of its authorship if it were released that way. He proposes to release the full report in the first week of April instead, “subject to any further legal action.”

“Releasing portions of the Task Force report in piecemeal fashion would provide a skewed view of our findings and undercut the rationale behind our recommendations,” the letter states. “In effect, it would provide the campus a distorted view of our work and undermine our efforts with an incomprehensive account of the events that took place.”

Read the full text of the letter below:

March 20, 2012

Dear President Yudof,

I received an update from the General Counsel’s office this weekend regarding the hearing that took place last Friday, March 16, 2012 following the Alameda County Superior Court’s ruling to grant in part and deny in part a preliminary injunction regarding the Task Force report.

As you are aware, at this hearing, the Court focused on portions of the Task Force report, as well as the accompanying report from the Kroll consulting group, that could be released to the public. While the Court identified portions of the report that could be made public, attorneys for the police union asked to review large portions of the report before committing to release those portions to the public. The Judge then ordered both parties to confer and come back to court on March 28, 2012. On advice from General Counsel, there is a good chance that the Task Force will be able to release the report in its entirety following this hearing.

As I previously stated, the Task Force has worked very hard and diligently over the past few months to ensure that the Davis community and the public get a thorough account of the events that took place on November 18, 2011, and has produced thoughtful recommendations to meet your charge to the Task Force. Releasing portions of the Task Force report in piecemeal fashion would provide a skewed view of our findings and undercut the rationale behind our recommendations. In effect, it would provide the campus a distorted view of our work and undermine our efforts with an incomprehensive account of the events that took place. In fact, several Task Force members have indicated they will be compelled to withdraw their support of authorship.

To be clear, it is very important to the Task Force to engage the UC Davis community first and foremost to address the incidents that occurred on our campus last November. There is still healing and understanding that needs to take place, and the full Task Force report – in its entirety – serves to address this in a straightforward and candid fashion.

I also want to convey to you my personal perspective on the disservice this statute has brought about in permitting a lawsuit which has thus far prevented the university community and the public from receiving the report. Nonetheless, we want to move as expeditiously as possible for the public release of the Task Force report; however, considering the Court’s actions I am proposing to release the Task Force report the first week of April, subject to any further legal action.

Sincerely,

Cruz Reynoso

Alisha Azevedo is the assistant university news editor.