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Judge dismisses claims against police officers, campus spokesperson in 2011 Occupy Cal lawsuit

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DECEMBER 31, 2014

Earlier in December, a federal judge dismissed claims against several local police officers in a lawsuit that claimed they used excessive force during the November 2011 Occupy Cal protests.

BAMN, an activist group in support of affirmative action, filed the lawsuit in 2011 on behalf of 24 protesters who said they saw and experienced excessive police violence during demonstrations that took place Nov. 9, 2011. The lawsuit lists former UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau and other administrators as defendants, in addition to UCPD officers and other police officials.

The Dec. 12 ruling, made by U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, dismissed excessive force and false arrest claims against Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Thomas Madigan because the claims did not portray Madigan as knowingly partaking in these actions, according to the judge. Rather, they simply accused him of taking part in the chain of command that allegedly resulted in these actions.

“These allegations are insufficient to allege Madigan set in motion, knowingly refused to terminate or acquiesced in any excessive force or false arrest conduct committed by those alleged to be under his command,” Rogers wrote in her ruling.

Claims against Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rodrigues and against Bill Kasiske, Stephen Roderick and John Suezaki — listed as UCPD officers in the suit — were dismissed on similar grounds. Additionally, claims against Pete Odyniec, Brendan Tinney, Jonathan Wong, Billy Brashear, Joey Williams and Don Jewell — also listed as UCPD officers in the case — were dismissed due to statute-of-limitations restrictions.

The judge maintained, however, an excessive force claim against Rodrigues that alleged that he and another officer jabbed a protester “forcefully and repeatedly with their batons at least seven times.” She also denied a motion to dismiss an excessive force claim against UCPD Sgt. Andrew Tucker.

According to Ronald Cruz, a BAMN attorney and organizer, the central components of BAMN’s case remain intact despite the judge’s recent dismissals.

“The administrators still remain in this case, and many of the police officers,” Cruz said. “This case is a big opportunity for many students who have been drawn into the struggle around the issues of police violence in the last few months to take a stand.”

The administrators named in the case, including Birgeneau and former executive vice chancellor and provost George Breslauer, asked to be dismissed from the lawsuit last year. But Rogers ruled in January that the protesters’ allegations gave “rise to a plausible claim” that administrators should have known that a directive given by Birgeneau could lead to police violence.

In the most recent ruling, though, Rogers dismissed claims against Dan Mogulof, executive director for public affairs at UC Berkeley.

The campus could not be reached in time for publication.

According to Cruz, another hearing is scheduled for this spring.

Melissa Wen is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.

DECEMBER 31, 2014