Police officer fired following involvement in pepper spray incident

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News outlets reported Thursday that Lt. John Pike — the police officer who pepper-sprayed seated protesters at an Occupy Davis protest last November — was fired Tuesday, allegedly overruling an internal affairs panel recommendation which recommended the lieutenant only face suspension.

According to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee, an internal affairs investigation which was conducted on the incident concluded that Pike acted reasonably. The internal affairs report was then followed by a panel review conducted by both the UC Davis police captain and the campus chief compliance officer, who concluded the lieutenant should have only faced demotion or a suspension at worst.

The internal affairs report — conducted by a Sacramento law firm and a private investigator hired by UC Davis — was completed after the two groups investigated the incident by holding interviews with at least 27 police officers, including Pike, as well as university leadership officials, according to the Sac Bee.

The internal affairs investigators reviewed more than 6,000 pages of emails, videos of the disturbance and other material, concluding there was a “preponderance of evidence” to support Pike’s action.

“For reasons detailed in this report, we conclude that Lieutenant Pike’s use of pepper spray was reasonable under the circumstances,” the report states.

The panel which reviewed the report issued a recommendation April 2 stating that the lieutenant be disciplined with actions ranging from a demotion to a suspension of at least two weeks.

Despite the recommendations, Pike was fired Tuesday after UC Davis Police Chief Matthew Carmichael rejected the findings and wrote in a letter to Pike that “the needs of the department do not justify your continued employment,” according to the documents.

UC Davis Spokesperson Claudia Morain said the campus cannot confirm whether or not Pike was fired, but can confirm that he is no longer employed by the UC Davis Police Department.