activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: pepper spray cop

appellate court decides that officers’ names in ‘pepper spray cop’ reports must be disclosed

After the November 18, 2011 incident during which University of California Davis police officers were videotaped pepper-spraying demonstrators, the UC Board of Regents commissioned two reports. The reports reviewed the facts leading up to the incident, made conclusions regarding responsibility for the incident, and included policy recommendations to ensure that such an incident wouldn’t happen again. When the reports were issued, on April 12, 2012, the names of more than a dozen UC police officers who planned, participated in, or witnessed the incident were redacted.

The redaction of the officers’ names was the result of litigation by the Federated University Police Officers Association (FUPOA) and John Pike (the “pepper spray cop”), who originally sought to stop the release of the reports in their entirety. After the reports were released, the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee newspapers submitted a series of public records requests for complete, unredacted versions of the reports. On May 29, 2012, the newspapers initiated legal action.

The trial court ordered the release of unredacted reports containing the names of the officers. Yet FUPOA sought review of the trial court’s order. Yesterday an appellate court agreed with the trial court that the identities of the officers named in the reports must be disclosed, because the purpose of the reports was to promote accountability and transparency.

parties reach one million dollar settlement in pepper spray lawsuit

On November 18, 2011, University of California Davis students and recent alumni demonstrated against tuition hikes and the mistreatment of demonstrators at UC Berkeley. Campus police ordered the UC Davis demonstrators, who were seated, to disperse. The demonstrators remained seated, prompting UC Davis police lieutenant John Pike to repeatedly spray them with military grade pepper spray at point-blank range. Another officer sprayed them from behind.

Today their attorneys announced the details regarding a settlement of their lawsuit against UC Davis, which a federal judge must approve:

The University will pay $1 million as part of the settlement. This includes a total of $730,000 to the named plaintiffs and others who were arrested or pepper-sprayed on November 18. It will also include up to $250,000 in costs and attorney fees.

This equates to $30,000 for each of the 21 plaintiffs, plus an additional $100,000 to be divided among other individuals who were pepper-sprayed or wrongfully arrested that day. Pike, the “pepper spray cop,” lost his job but will not face criminal charges.