Berkeley Police Review Commission reviews pepper-spray incidents

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Two pepper-spray incidents from this past summer were reviewed at Wednesday’s Berkeley Police Review Commission meeting.

In both incidents — which took place on July 7 and 14 — the officers used pepper spray after the subjects did not comply with verbal orders. In the first incident, an officer used two bursts of pepper spray on a subject, whereas an officer used two bursts of pepper spray on two separate subjects in the second incident.

As mandated by city policy, any use of pepper spray must be reported to Berkeley City Council and the Police Review Commission within seven days of the incident.

The Berkeley Police Review Commission — made up of nine members appointed by the City Council and mayor — reviews and advises on the practices, procedures and policies of Berkeley Police Department. There were no reported uses of pepper spray at the last commission meeting, said Police Review Commission Officer Lucinda Simpson in an email.

According to a second pepper-spray report on July 7 at 2:40 p.m., Officer Jeff Shannon stopped four subjects at Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way as part of a narcotics investigation. One subject began fighting with police officers.

“I gave the subject a verbal warning to stop fighting or I would pepper spray him,” Shannon states in the report.

The suspect continued to resist, leading the officer to deploy a half-second burst of pepper spray.  The officer also deployed a burst of pepper spray on a second subject who was resisting attempts to secure him in handcuffs.

On July 14 at 7:52 p.m., Officer Joseph Ledoux attempted to detain a suspect involved in a dispute at 2451 San Pablo Ave., according to Berkeley Police Department’s Use of Pepper Spray report. The officer gave verbal orders before grabbing the suspect’s left arm, but the subject pulled away and “took a fighting stance.”

“I eventually resorted to a half-second burst of (pepper spray) to the suspect’s face,” Ledoux said in the report.

The half-second burst is the precise amount officers are trained to dispense, said Berkeley Police Capt. Cynthia Harris during the meeting.

According to the report, the suspect then fled the scene. After the officer re-encountered the suspect approximately 20 yards north, another half-second burst was administered toward the suspect, and it missed. The foot chase continued, and the officer sprayed a third burst at the suspect’s face, according to the report.


<a href=””>Berkeley Police Department July Pepper Spray Incidents (PDF)</a><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=””>Berkeley Police Department July Pepper Spray Incidents (Text)</a><br />

Chloe Hunt covers crime. Contact her at [email protected]