Commentary: Pike Worker’s Compensation Payout Makes Mockery of System, Incident

Pepper-spray

Apparently an administrative law judge has taken the old adage – this hurts me more than it hurts you – to a new a level when deciding to award Lt. John Pike 38,056 dollars.  Lt. Pike filed a worker’s compensation claim in which he claimed depression and anxiety brought on by threats and criticism he and his family received following the infamous November 18, 2011, incident on the UC Davis Quad.

On the other hand, 21 students settled their claims against the university, related to Lt. Pike’s decision to pepper spray protesters on that November 18 day, for a mere $30,000 each.  The university admitted to no wrongdoing in that dispute.  They deny and “continue to deny each and all of the claims alleged by Plaintiffs in the Litigation. Defendants contend that they acted reasonably and in good faith.”

Lt. John Pike, following several public and internal investigations, was fired by UC Davis Police Chief Matthew Carmichael, who rejected the findings of an internal report that found “Lieutenant Pike’s deployment of pepper spray was reasonable under the circumstances,” and instead wrote in a letter to Pike that “the needs of the department do not justify your continued employment.”

On the other hand, the board was critical of his actions that “were not reasonable and prudent under the circumstances in view of his rank and responsibilities at the time.”

Notably, they found that Lt. Pike “had ‘multiple opportunities’ to minimize the escalation of tensions and that ‘serious errors of judgment and deficiencies of leadership’ required that he face discipline ranging from a demotion to a suspension of at least two weeks.”

The Sacramento Bee, which gained access to internal documents, wrote, “Carmichael concluded that Pike had assumed the role of de facto commander of the operation ‘but performed it poorly’ and that the ‘manner in which you used the pepper spray showed poor judgment’ given the direction that minimal force was to be used.”

Chief Carmichael wrote: “Knowing this information, you stated when interviewed that there is nothing you would do differently. Faced with the same circumstances, you would still have deployed the pepper spray.”

During the worker’s compensation hearings, Richard Lieberman evaluated Mr. Pike and determined that his disability was “moderate” and that he suffered “continuing and significant internal and external stress with respect to resolving and solving the significant emotional upheavals that have occurred,” and showed no evidence that these conditions were improving.

Unfortunately, these findings make a mockery of the system, as John Pike now receives more money from the university than the students he pepper sprayed.

The impact on this community remains from that day.

Ironically, the ruling comes just after the university implemented a police oversight system to regain the public trust in the UC Davis Police Department – in the aftermath of the pepper-spray incident.

The message sent here is uncanny and is captured by a quote from Bernie Goldsmith, a local activist and attorney, who said the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”

Accounts from several of the students pepper sprayed demonstrate they suffered physical and mental impacts at least as severe as those of John Pike.

“We were sitting down as a symbolic gesture of protest and it was an act of solidarity with my friends who were arrested,” David Buscho, one of those pepper sprayed, told the Vanguard last September when the settlement was agreed upon.

When students remained seated to continue their demonstration, a UC Davis police officer repeatedly sprayed the line of protesters with pepper spray at point-blank range, while scores of other officers looked on.

“I was pepper sprayed repeatedly in the face,” described Mr.  Buscho, a Mechanical Engineering student.

Another officer sprayed the demonstrators from behind. The seated students posed no physical threat to the officers. Pepper spray has excruciating effects that can last for days.

“It’s really the most noxious and painful substance,” Mr. Buscho said as he described the agonizing moments following being bathed in pepper spray.

“My face was totally coated because I couldn’t cover my face,” he continued.  “I kept inhaling pepper spray which is really bad.  When you inhale pepper spray it’s so painful that your entire chest contracts so it actually feels like you’re suffocating because I couldn’t force myself to breathe.”

He described repeatedly vomiting.  Those who tried to help by pouring water on him made it worse because it simply spread the agent throughout his body.

“I was just covered in pepper spray,” he said.

“I want to make sure that nothing like this happens again. That’s the best thing that could come from this. Since November 18 students have been afraid of the police. The University still needs to work to rebuild students’ trust and this settlement is a step in the right direction,” said Fatima Sbeih, who had just graduated with an International Studies degree. Sbeih was one of those pepper sprayed on the Quad. She had panic attacks and frequent nightmares for months after the incident, and often woke up screaming.

“I want the University and the police to understand what they did wrong. Police should be accountable to students,” said Ian Lee. Lee was less than two months into college when he was pepper sprayed. “I was demonstrating because of rising tuition hikes and privatization of the University. Then we faced police brutality in response. I felt like the University silenced me.” After the incident, Lee experienced panic attacks and was afraid to participate in protests.

To many, it will send the message that the worker’s compensation system is broken.  It was a series of mistakes, as highlighted in the Kroll and Reynoso reports – many made by Lt. Pike himself – that brought on this situation.

In April 2012, the independent investigations led by the Kroll Team and the Reynoso Task Force concluded: “The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented.”

Kroll wrote: “The actual deployment of pepper spray by Lieutenant Pike and by [Officer Alexander Lee] at Pike’s direction was flawed and unnecessary.”

The task force found, along with Kroll, “The decision to use [pepper spray] was not supported by objective evidence and was not authorized by policy,” as the pepper spray that was used was not an authorized weapon for use by the UCDPD.

The task force found, “Lt. Pike bears primary responsibility for the objectively unreasonable decision to use pepper spray on the students sitting in a line and for the manner in which the pepper spray was used.”

They found that the pepper spray used was unauthorized under UCDPD General Order No.559, which “provides that pepper spray can be used, but specifically refers to the MK-4 (a smaller canister).”

The task force added, “Furthermore, the investigation found no evidence that any UCDPD officer had been trained in the use of the larger MK-9.”

Kroll supported their conclusion that use of pepper spray was not reasonable use of force, by stating, “This conclusion is buttressed by the facts that the MK-9 was not an authorized weapon under UCDPD guidelines and that UCDPD officers were not trained in its use.”

Given those findings, it does not seem reasonable that John Pike could then claim that he was the victim of this process.  Granted, Kroll spread the blame around, starting with the mismanagement of the crisis by the upper administration.  However, John Pike on the scene helped to escalate the situation.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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58 thoughts on “Commentary: Pike Worker’s Compensation Payout Makes Mockery of System, Incident”

  1. Growth Izzue

    [quote]To many it will send the message that the worker’s compensation system is broken. [/quote]

    Duh! If the “many” didn’t already know that they must be living in a vacuum.

  2. Davis Progressive

    at a university that is desperately trying to remake its image, this is a huge ugly stain. now you have papers and bloggers and columnists across the country covering this story in a mocking way. that’s not good for the university.

  3. medwoman

    This is a travesty which sends completely the wrong message about the rights and responsibilities of the police.

    Let’s look at this from the perspective of a different profession, medicine/surgery. The sequence of events is this.
    A patient arrives for management. Dr. Pike has been instructed by his supervising doctor to use the least invasive means available to treat the patient. The patient himself poses no medical threat either to himself or others and has expressed a preference for non invasive management. Dr. Pike is aware that there are other, less invasive treatment options than surgery. Despite this knowledge, and the questions and entreaties of the patient, Dr. Pike proceeds with the surgery using an instrument that was actually designed for use in a different type of surgery. He uses it incorrectly and without having received instruction in its safe and appropriate use. The patient sustains unnecessary injury, pain and emotional trauma.
    Dr. Pike is relieved of his duties. News of his egregious action spreads through the community and Dr. Pike gets labelled by some as a “quack” thus harming his reputation.

    Does anyone out there believe that Dr. Pike deserves a financial reward, regardless of size for his completely self inflicted injury ?

    Meanwhile, back to the police. We willingly transfer to this particular group of individuals enormous personal and group power. We do this specifically so that they will be able to protect us as individuals and as a community from physical and financial harm. However, what we do not do is give them limitless power. They are to serve as an example to the community of working within the law and under tightly controlled constraints. Lt. Pike did not chose to operate within those constraints and now he is, in effect, being rewarded for his poor choices. Incredible.

  4. medwoman

    The above message was sent prematurely by my new kitten walking down the keyboard. The post was intended to include the following.

    I want to be clear. I am not in favor of “punishment” for either Lt. Pike, or my fictitious Dr. Pike. What I think would be in the best interest of these individuals, their families, their victims, and the community as a whole, would be for them to agree to enter into a rigorously monitored retraining program after completion of which they would be able to work, again under very close supervision, until such time if any that they have demonstrated the ability to work safely, follow instruction, not exceed the limits of their training and knowledge, and use good judgement in the exercise of their duties. For me, this is not about punishment.
    It is about not rewarding bad behavior.

  5. SODA

    I like your analogy, medwoman!
    What are your thoughts on rewards for the students? On one hand, they certainly can be considered victims, but to put a $ price on what they sustained, seems incongruous to me…comments?

  6. SouthofDavis

    Medwoman wrote:

    > Does anyone out there believe that Dr. Pike deserves
    > a financial reward, regardless of size for his
    > completely self inflicted injury ?

    It looks like the “administrative law judge” thought he deserved some cash for screwing up and I bet there are a lot of others that think he “deserves” even more (I know some cops that were very upset that he got canned for spraying a “bunch of smelly hippies”.

    Over the years I have seen so many in government “fail upward” (screw up beyond belief and get promoted rather than fired) that I’m actually surprised that Pike didn’t end up with over a million dollars “and” become the next head of the UC Police.

    P.S. I can’t remember the last time anyone working for the government screwed up and was cut loose the next day without getting at least a pile of cash and a huge pension…

  7. medwoman

    SODA

    I think that is a harder issue. I tend to think that for most injuries sustained, money is not the best solution.
    What I would see as more appropriate in their cases might have been adjustment in their student fees ( I see a distinct irony in their student fees going to support Lt.Pike), full coverage of any medical expenses including subsequent treatment for any traumatically induced psychologic issues and an extended period of time to complete any compromised course work. I believe that some of this was enacted. I don’t know if it all was.
    Your thoughts ?

  8. SouthofDavis

    Medwoman wrote:

    > The above message was sent prematurely by my new
    > kitten walking down the keyboard.

    This reminded me of one of my favorite Officer Pike modified pepper spray photos of him spraying a kitten that was saying “I am the one purrcent”.

    No luck finding it with a quick Google search, but I did find some other creative Officer Pike photos:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2065419/Occupy-protest-pepper-spraying-cop-John-Pike-internet-hit-thanks-Photoshop.html

  9. Phil Coleman

    The system–in this instance the workers’ comp system–is not being mocked. It was a correct and just application of existing law governing work-related events and circumstances.

    The Pike workers’ comp case was fairly rendered. Any employee can perform with gross negligence, be professionally and personally irresponsible, and yet be “rewarded” monetarily simply because the employee suffered physical or psychological harm of some sort.

    Workers’ Comp laws do not examine the causal factors from the employee perspective, it examines the work environment only and assigns any assigned blame to the employer. No matter what Pike did that that was wrong or in violation of existing rules and law, the resultant trauma he experienced was work-related. Therefore, he is entitled to compensation.

    Allow me one example among a dozen I could relate: I had an employee who was an alcoholic and who refused all efforts for rehabilitation. He went up the “progressive discipline” ladder to where he was about to be terminated.

    The employee filed for disability retirement and Workers’ Comp, citing acute stress. He medicated himself with alcohol on his own initiative, which only exacerbated his circumstance.

    The ruling bodies ignored the worker’s poor judgment and contributory negligence and awarded him a disability retirement and a handsome workers’ comp award. While this may have been a travesty, it was not a mockery of the system. That’s how the system works, even if one wants to characterize it a “rewarding bad behavior.”

  10. medwoman

    SouthofDavis

    [quote]I know some cops that were very upset that he got canned for spraying a “bunch of smelly hippies”.
    [/quote]

    Perhaps the “cops” that hold this view would also be good candidates for retraining. The inability to distinguish between UCD students and faculty protesting fee hikes and privatization of the university from “smelly hippies” does not inspire confidence in their overall judgement.

  11. Growth Izzue

    Phil Coleman
    [quote]While this may have been a travesty, it was not a mockery of the system. [/quote]

    I fully agree, Pike was well within his rights as far as the way the system is set up. It’s the system itself that is the mockery.

  12. Mr.Toad

    The usual dog pile.

    This guy lost not only his job but his career. He has been vilified, threatened, scapegoated and turned into an internet meme, Now a bunch of hateful anti-pension conservatives want to make him a poster boy for abuse of the workers comp system. A system designed to support those no longer able to work. Well guess what he went from $110,000 a year to $38,000. I don’t support what he did but I feel sorry for the poor bastard and I hope we can finally stop kicking him around now that his case is settled.

  13. medwoman

    Phil Coleman

    [quote]The ruling bodies ignored the worker’s poor judgment and contributory negligence and awarded him a disability retirement and a handsome workers’ comp award. While this may have been a travesty, it was not a mockery of the system. That’s how the system works, even if one wants to characterize it a “rewarding bad behavior.”
    [/quote]

    I am a little conflicted about the pros and cons of this approach. In the case of the worker that you provided, there is something to be gained by providing a retirement for this individual. It would seem that his disease
    ( alcoholism) is preventing him from being able to support himself. I have no problem providing for individuals who are medically incapacitated thus hopefully preventing them from becoming homeless and a larger burden still upon society.

    Lt Pike’s case seems different to me in that I doubt his injury has kept him from being able to do any meaningful work and thus support himself and his family. If he were to be that disabled, then the worker’s compensation claim would fall far short of meeting his and his family’s needs and thus would be ineffective.
    If he has recovered sufficiently to hold a job, then what is achieved by providing him with this token sum of money ? While I agree that the decision in this case was likely well within the constraints of “the system”.
    It is the wisdom and efficacy of the system itself that is being questioned.

  14. SODA

    Medwoman; yes I agree with your thoughts on student ‘restitution’ in more meaningful ways, and yes, the irony of the fees is truly ironic….
    It would be good to hear some followup of the students’ stories…I particularly would be interested in hearing what the faculty member (?English faculty) is doing now…..

  15. Davis Progressive

    “This guy lost not only his job but his career. He has been vilified, threatened, scapegoated and turned into an internet meme.”

    he and eminem: “i’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage”

  16. B. Nice

    The students are portrayed as helpless victims in this story. They made a conciuos decision to stay seated when they were fully aware some police officer on a huge power trip was about to douse them with pepper spray. The stood up (or stayed seated) for a cause they believed in.

    Pike sounds like he had emotional/mental health issues before this incident. It’s too bad that wasn’t recognized by his supervisors before they armed him with an unauthorized weapon he was not trained to use, and sent him into a situation he was not trained to deal with.

  17. medwoman

    Mr. Toad

    [quote]This guy lost not only his job but his career. He has been vilified, threatened, scapegoated and turned into an internet meme.”
    [/quote]

    Agreed. And from my perspective completely ineffective and unnecessary ( albeit occasionally funny )as a means of addressing this issue. I would have preferred SOD’s reference to “restitution” being applied not only to the students, but also to the police officers and administrators involved. There were lessons all the way around to be drawn from this event. Lessons for the protestors, for the police, for the administrators and for the community.
    I feel that the “system” that we employ now emphasizes “right and wrong”, “reward and punishment” over “restitution” and effective use of incidents as an example of how to prevent future such occurrences.

    I think what I would actually prefer in such a setting would be a “reenactment” scenario in which as much of the initial situation as possible could be recreated with each individual assessing their own actions taken in terms of “what were my alternatives at this point in time that would have led to a better outcome” and with an emphasis not on being punitive to individuals, but rather looking critically at the systems in place to evaluate what changes in the process would result in better outcomes.

    In my field, we are currently using this model in debriefing individual cases for improvement and running simulations of emergency and critical situations to identify problems with equipment, skills and process before the problem occurs. I can only believe that this process likely has broader applicability.

  18. Growth Izzue

    Toad:
    [quote]Now a bunch of hateful anti-pension conservatives want to make him a poster boy for abuse of the workers comp system.[/quote]

    Medwoman, David and Davis Progressive, what hurts worst? Being called “hateful”, “anti-pension” or “conservatives”?

  19. medwoman

    GI

    [quote]Medwoman, David and Davis Progressive, what hurts worst? Being called “hateful”, “anti-pension” or “conservatives”?
    [/quote]

    Since none apply, no pain involved.

    Mr.Toad

    [quote]Agreed, its funny that the advocates of restorative justice are so vindictive when the wrongdoer is a cop.[/quote]

    Can you point to one thing I said that was “vindictive” ? I made a point of arguing for a restorative approach for Lt. Pike as well as for the students and administrators involved. I just do not feel that regardless of the injury sustained ,$38,000 does not address the underlying issue and so is ineffective as a strategy to help either Lt. Pike or the community. I thought I made it very clear that I do not favor “punishment” for anyone involved.

  20. SouthofDavis

    Mr Toad wrote:

    > Now a bunch of hateful anti-pension conservatives
    > want to make him a poster boy for abuse of the
    > workers comp system.

    Most of the “anti-pension conservatives” I know wish Pike beat the kids “Rodney King Style” and would get his job back to “protect us” from dirtbag liberal protestors….

    > I feel sorry for the poor bastard and I hope we
    > can finally stop kicking him around now that
    > his case is settled.

    I’m wondering if Toad would also feel sorry for a frustrated third grade teacher who pepper sprayed a class of kids that would not line up for a fire drill?

  21. SouthofDavis

    Phil wrote:

    > The ruling bodies ignored the worker’s poor judgment and
    > contributory negligence and awarded him a disability
    > retirement and a handsome workers’ comp award.

    It seems like a day does not pass when I don’t hear about a crazy workers’ comp issue:

    A teacher recently sued for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act when she was not able to teach kids due to her “anxiety and depression stemming from her concerns about possibly getting fired”

    A former high school teacher is accusing school district administrators of discriminating against her because of a rare phobia she says she has: a fear of young children.

    Before this is over I bet Pike (like most people that screw up in the public sector) ends up with even more money…

  22. B. Nice

    SouthofDavis

    [quote]I know some cops that were very upset that he got canned for spraying a “bunch of smelly hippies”. [/quote]

    Nice to know that some cops have such callous regard for the students they are supposed to be protecting. My question is why are those with this attitude allowed to serve in this capacity (while carrying firearms no less).

  23. B. Nice

    [quote]It seems like a day does not pass when I don’t hear about a crazy workers’ comp issue: [/quote]

    And not a day go by when i don’t here a story about someone getting screwed out of worker’s comp. We hear the story’s because the are crazy and unusual.

  24. Growth Izzue

    [quote]And not a day go by when i don’t here a story about someone getting screwed out of worker’s comp. We hear the story’s because the are crazy and unusual. [/quote]

    You wouldn’t know it by the spiralling out of control number of people now collecting.

  25. wesley506

    This whole episode is a classic illustration of how shit roles down hill. The review of how the demonstration was handled by administration revealed that those at the top screwed up at every possible opportunity, from ignoring advice from those who appeared to know the most about the situation, to conducting meetings on how to best resolve the protests by conference call, to giving unclear and sometimes conflicting directives. The actual pepper spraying was just a natural expected outcome of all of this ineptitude. Unfortunately the minion gets canned, while the responsible administrators are probably falling all over themselves giving each other letters of commendation, promotions, and bonuses for how how they successfully handled this crisis

  26. JimmysDaughter

    As a workers comp adjuster, manager, high cost claims adjuster, and medical liason for over 10 years, I experienced first hand the problems with this broken system. But all the laws in the world won’t fix it.
    It always amused me when many business owners refuse to take part in the dialogue. Many of them do not offer affordable health insurance to their workers. If a worker suffers a back injury at home and cannot work, there is an incentive to claim they injured themself at work a few days later, if their back doesn’t heal. Especially if they are not given adequate sick leave.
    I already mentioned the ER costs in a previous post.
    I also saw a correlation between people who hated their jobs, and claims filed. Excessive overtime & claims filed. Unsafe workplaces, stressful jobs, more claims.
    I read medical reports from “applicant” attorneys and “defense” attorneys. They were very expensive doctors.
    Of course there will always be workers who malinger, because they don’t enjoy their job. The ones who like their manager & like their job do not malinger.
    One of the biggest misconceptions that business owners stated to me: “I don’t want that worker back until he/she is 100% healed. They’ll just re-injure themself.”
    Wrong. If you bring your worker back, “light duty”, they are happier and more productive. If they sit home, ruminating about the unfairness of an on-the-job injury, they are more likely to get overweight and depressed. They will also watch all the advertisements on daytime t.v. re: attorneys. They will also chat more with other workers who were injured, and compare notes on what their settlement was.
    So, insure your workers, give them paid sick leave, don’t offer too much overtime, and please bring them back to the workplace as soon as possible, with light duty.
    And if you are a worker who truly hates your job, find another one. Life is too short.

  27. ebowler

    While the outcome of Pike’s workers compensation case might be distasteful, I disagree that it makes a mockery of the workers’ compensation system. If anything, it shows that the system worked for him the way it is intended to work.

    As Phil Coleman said:

    [quote] No matter what Pike did that that was wrong or in violation of existing rules and law, the resultant trauma he experienced was work-related. Therefore, he is entitled to compensation.
    [/quote]

    This is how the system is intended to work and it appears that is exactly what happened in this case. Here is another example. Suppose an employee spills water on a concrete factory floor, then fails to wipe up the spill but instead leaves the puddle of water on the floor. If the employee subsequently slips in the water and falls, breaking his leg, he will be entitled to compensation under the workers’ compensation system. Even though the employee’s injury was entirely due to his own negligence, he will be compensated because he received a compensable injury as a result of his employment.

    That is how the no-fault workers’ compensation system is designed to work despite the fact that the outcomes are not always to everyone’s liking.

  28. Growth Izzue

    [quote]Wrong. If you bring your worker back, “light duty”, they are happier and more productive.[/quote]

    Not from my experience. Everytime a worker had to come back on light duty where I worked they were upset that the company was making them come back. They preferred to stay home anf “take it easy”.

  29. SouthofDavis

    JimmysDaughter wrote:

    > If a worker suffers a back injury at home and cannot
    > work, there is an incentive to claim they injured
    > themself at work a few days later,

    It is funny to hear my firefighter friends who get hurt skiing, snowboarding or working in their construction business complain about the “strict” fire chiefs that actually make they come in to the station and “pretend” to get injured before they will write up their injury as a “workers comp” claim (most chiefs will just let them “call it in” and write a report that they fell while inspecting a fire engine)…

  30. Growth Izzue

    I once knew a guy that blew out his knee playing softball. The next day he drove into work and said when he stepped out of his car he slipped and blew out the knee in an oil spot. Once he was on the premises, even though he wasn’t on the clock yet, it counted as a work injury. I knew other guys that would stay out months or years long after they were healed. The system is a farce that is easily taken advantage of.

  31. JimmysDaughter

    P.S. The first question I asked myself when receiving a new clam: “Did this arise out of, or in the course of, the workers’s employment?” Then I had to let the medical reports fill in any blanks.
    We would never want a w.c. system that relied on witnesses. Too much office politics. Also, if your are all alone when you are injured, it is not fair for you to prove that injury actually occurred. The burden of proof should lie with the business owner to prove that injury did not occur. If in his mind, Lt. Pike believes he was stressed on his job, then he probably was. (I never saw a doctor, lawyer, firefighter, dentist, peace officer or correctional officer stress claim that was not accepted.) It was probably years of cumulative stress of being a cop, not that one incident. That incident probably was just the straw….

  32. Alan Miller

    [quote]I know some cops that were very upset that he got canned for spraying a “bunch of smelly hippies”[/quote]

    Did they actually smell them? I know several of the people who got sprayed, and all in my estimation have a neutral to pleasant scent.

  33. David M. Greenwald

    I have spoken to a number of police officers both in DPD and UC DPD and they all felt like the situation was mismanaged and that Pike was fortunately to get off only losing his job.

  34. Alan Miller

    [quote] It was probably years of cumulative stress of being a cop, not that one incident. That incident probably was just the straw…. [/quote]

    . . . that broke the camel’s back? That piece of “straw” was more like an uncut redwood trunk.

  35. Alan Miller

    [quote]his disease (alcoholism) is preventing him from being able to support himself. I have no problem providing for individuals who are medically incapacitated[/quote]

    Addiction is a disease in a sense, most often dealt with, if it ever is, when the afflicted so-called “hits bottom”. When family/friends prevents this, understandably though misguidedly trying to help, the result is often fatal (as it often is regardless). When society enables, again with possibly well-meaning intention, the results to both the afflicted and society are tragic.

  36. medwoman

    GI

    I don’t doubt that people moan and complain about having to go back to work. However, at least in my field when depression questionnaires are used to assess people’s mood, those who go back to worker sooner improve faster that those who stay at home longer. I suspect that this is related more to the beneficial effects of increased social engagement that to any physical condition.

  37. Alan Miller

    The $30K payout to those sprayed was an unfortunate “end” to the incident. It left many feeling they were ultimately monetarily “rewarded” for being “victims” while the U lost $1m which is to the U chump change, and the administrators responsible for bone-head level decisions skated sans migraines while those in the trenches got the hacking. A comment sentiment after the payout was “I’ll get pepper sprayed for $30K”. The monetary payouts on all sides (Pike, sprayees) cheapened and made less unlikely the real reform that could have help prevent a repeat of the incident.

    My understanding is that several of those who were sprayed wanted to carry this on a civil rights issue and drag the U reputation through the mud publicly for years to come to evoke change. Once the ACLU was able to broker the $30K deal, they had to decide as a group, and many, even those who wished to hold out, did not want to wait years and continue to have their time and their lives dominated by this incident, with an unknown result or payout. The “$30K now” was looking pretty sweet, even though it involved no punishment of responsible administrators, limited real change in the system, and was a pimple on the U budget. There was also pressure to settle from those who wanted the $30K on those who wanted to hold out.

    I am not saying this is the only view of the outcome, nor that I have it “right” even as a point of view. I am putting this out there with the hope that some of those actually sprayed may be inspired to give their point of view (if they can, as I am sure there were confidentiality clauses involved).

  38. B. Nice

    [quote]It is funny to hear my firefighter friends who get hurt skiing, snowboarding or working in their construction business complain about the “strict” fire chiefs that actually make they come in to the station and “pretend” to get injured before they will write up their injury as a “workers comp” claim (most chiefs will just let them “call it in” and write a report that they fell while inspecting a fire engine)…[/quote]

    What not so funny is when a ski patroller I know got injured while conducting avalanche control (using explosives to generate small avalanches in order to prevent larger ones from occurring), was denied worker’s compensation because he had used marijuana a few days earlier on his off day and thus couldn’t pass a drug test.

  39. Growth Izzue

    [quote]was denied worker’s compensation because he had used marijuana a few days earlier on his off day and thus couldn’t pass a drug test. [/quote]

    He should’ve known better, especially because he has a dangerous job to begin with.

  40. biddlin

    Pike’s qualifying condition could be a mitigating factor in any judgement of his job performance on that day I’m sure everyone wishes they could roll-back. I’m with Toad on this one.
    Biddlin ;>)/

  41. jimt

    I’m a bit confused about the total payout $ to Pike.
    Is the $38,000 workers comp payout a 1-time payment; or an annual payout that will continue indefinitely?
    Someone on this forum mentioned he is eligible for early disability retirement–wonder about how much the taxpayer will be shelling out for this every year (Pike is about age 40?)

    I somewhat agree with other posters who opine that Pike has been unfairly vilified, though I also agree he is guilty of having used poor judgement. I don’t think he should have been fired; just suspension and some required training courses. Instead, he will be living off the taxpayers dime for early retirement, as I understand it, without doing anything to earn it (an example of where our tax money goes; perhaps related to debt problems to plague us into the foreseeable future).

  42. Alan Miller

    “I don’t think he should have been fired;”

    He could not have stayed. He would have been a lighting rod for student protest as long as he remained. He would have been dissed and mocked and the U could not keep such around.

    Too bad this same mockery is not continuing to be laid upon the “real enemy”. . . . . as the U correctly knows, they needed a scapegoat who was at the field level, time, student turnover, P.R. campaigns, and the leaders who made the bone headed decisions could keep their bennies.

  43. Frankly

    Welcome to the state of labor management insanity.

    Although Pike’s claim makes some sense given the political firestorm and the lack of support from his superior officers; we have reached a point in time where the claim of “stress” is the new epidemic.

    And the new dream of success is to land a disability reward to fund a life without the need to suffer the stress of work.

    [img]http://www.thesocialmisfit.com/disabled.jpg[/img]

  44. Ginger

    [quote]Unfortunately, these findings make a mockery of the system, as John Pike now receives more money from the university than the students he pepper sprayed.[/quote] Apples and oranges. It might be a clever turn of phrase to compare them, but worker’s comp and the student’s settlement are entirely different beasts.

    People get workman’s comp ALL THE TIME for screwing up on the job and getting injured. As to the disability from anxiety…there’s an ADA case right now in front of the SCOTUS about a teacher who successfully sued for being fired over her poor performance. She claims her poor performance was the result of anxiety and depression stemming from EARLIER reprimands regarding her poor performance and thus being worried that she’d get fired. Wonder if the same people who laugh at Pike getting compensation for anxiety will also laugh at this teacher.

    [quote]When students remained seated to continue their demonstration, a UC Davis police officer repeatedly sprayed the line of protesters with pepper spray at point-blank range, while scores of other officers looked on.[/quote] You leave out that they were warned repeatedly.

    medwoman: [quote]A patient arrives for management. Dr. Pike has been instructed by his supervising doctor to use the least invasive means available to treat the patient. The patient himself poses no medical threat either to himself or others and has expressed a preference for non invasive management. Dr. Pike is aware that there are other, less invasive treatment options than surgery. Despite this knowledge, and the questions and entreaties of the patient, Dr. Pike proceeds with the surgery using an instrument that was actually designed for use in a different type of surgery. He uses it incorrectly and without having received instruction in its safe and appropriate use. The patient sustains unnecessary injury, pain and emotional trauma. [/quote] You also leave out the pivotal point, that the “patient” was aware that invasive surgery was going to be used and elected to stay nonetheless. Your analogy would only be accurate if you added, “The patient understands that Dr. Pike is going to use invasive surgery and is given ample opportunity to leave the OR; many other patients had already done so while the patient remained. People surrounding the sterile surgery zone were shouting, “Don’t use invasive surgery! Don’t use invasive surgery!”

    Also you said, [quote]He uses it incorrectly and without having received instruction in its safe and appropriate use.[/quote] So he’s not 100% to blame for his predicament.

    SODA [quote]What are your thoughts on rewards for the students? On one hand, they certainly can be considered victims, but to put a $ price on what they sustained, seems incongruous to me…comments?[/quote] You didn’t ask me, but I will chime in. 🙂

    I don’t consider them victims. They chose to remain. And remember this is 8 days after Berkeley students were beaten by police…this UCD protest was in part to show solidarity with and support for the Berkeley students. I know even at 20 I sure wouldn’t have disobeyed police orders and agreed to be pepper sprayed. And if I had? I wouldn’t expect monetary compensation for it.

    DP: [quote]he and eminem: “i’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage”[/quote] “Everybody only wants to discuss me. So this must mean I’m disgusting.” 🙂

    B. Nice [quote]The students are portrayed as helpless victims in this story. They made a conscious decision to stay seated when they were fully aware some police officer on a huge power trip was about to douse them with pepper spray. The stood up (or stayed seated) for a cause they believed in.

    Pike sounds like he had emotional/mental health issues before this incident. It’s too bad that wasn’t recognized by his supervisors before they armed him with an unauthorized weapon he was not trained to use, and sent him into a situation he was not trained to deal with.[/quote] 100% agree.

    GI [quote]Medwoman, David and Davis Progressive, what hurts worst? Being called “hateful”, “anti-pension” or “conservatives”?
    [/quote] LOL

  45. medwoman

    Ginger

    Perhaps you missed the part of my post where I indicated a preference for a process of review in which each party, including the students looked critically at their own behavior with the idea of determining at what junctures they themselves could have acted differently to avoid this outcome.

    I do however, hold the police to a higher standard of behavior than I do unarmed citizens. Another factor here is the legality of the action. One student repetitively asked Lt. Pike on what authority he was demanding that they leave and what law they were breaking. Lt. Pike did not respond to this legitimate question. If indeed they were not breaking any law, which would seem to be the case, then there was no justification for Lt. Pike,
    ( granted acting under the authority of the administration)
    to demand that they leave a public space.

  46. jimt

    Frankly,

    Interesting graph on disability applications; the rate per population has more than doubled since about 2000! Maybe life IS just getting more stressful (I’m rapidly developing a worse toothache today; looks like another root canal will in the works soon–toothaches and root canals do not help with my stress levels!)

  47. Ginger

    medwoman [quote]Perhaps you missed the part of my post where I indicated a preference for a process of review in which each party, including the students looked critically at their own behavior with the idea of determining at what junctures they themselves could have acted differently to avoid this outcome. [/quote] Nope. Didn’t miss it. 🙂

    Thing is, you expressing your preference for how things should have been handled in review [i]after the fact [/i]is entirely DIFFERENT than my point. My point was that your “Dr. Pike” timeline was missing a critical plot point, being that the patient (using your analogy) was warned in advance and chose to not leave. Perhaps you missed that.

    If you don’t understand the university rules the students were breaking, and the fact that the Thanksgiving holiday was approaching and with it the lessening of security on campus, the context of the OWS rapes and violence and the responsibility of the university to keep students safe, the fact that Berkeley had just had violent clashes with students and police…then I don’t think you’re looking at the whole picture.

    Answer this honestly…if the students had been allowed to stay there and a student had been raped…or worse? Who would you be blaming? The UCD cops, I’ll bet. Do you think they didn’t know that?

  48. medwoman

    Ginger

    “Answer this honestly…if the students had been allowed to stay there and a student had been raped…or worse? Who would you be blaming? The UCD cops, I’ll bet. Do you think they didn’t know that?”

    If a rape had occurred, I would have blamed the rapist, not the UCD cops. I do not buy into the concept that citizens should be restricted from legitimate activities ,such as protesting peacefully on the quad in broad daylight because of what someone might do to them in the future. This is what the administration was attempting to do and the directive that Lt.Pike was attempting to enforce.

  49. medwoman

    Ginger

    “If you don’t understand the university rules the students were breaking, and the fact that the Thanksgiving holiday was approaching and with it the lessening of security on campus, the context of the OWS rapes and violence and the responsibility of the university to keep students safe, the fact that Berkeley had just had violent clashes with students and police…then I don’t think you’re looking at the whole picture.”

    I don’t think that the administration /police were looking at the ” whole picture” in terms of available options. The Thanksgiving holiday was approaching which means that there would have been a high probability that interest in maintaining the protest would have diminished. It is likely that waiting would have lessened the number of people at risk far more than the “assaulting them to save them” strategy that was used.
    The seeds of a second, less aggressive strategy lie within your post. They could have chosen to maintain rather than “lessen the level of security for the protection of the remaining students if that was really their concern. They could have chosen to send some officers out to be amongst the protestors as opposed to going in as a riot gear clad offensive force.

    Again, there were choices and better alternatives available to all sides. We give to police, and those who direct them, powers ( including lethal force ) that we do not give to other citizens . With greater powers should also go greater responsibility for ones own actions including the appropriate use of self restraint. The students were on campus as just that “students”. The police were there explicitly stated to “protect them”.
    And yet the only injury sustained was on students at the hands of the police. There is an applicable Turkish folk saying that translates to :
    “Look at the result .”

  50. Ginger

    [quote]The Thanksgiving holiday was approaching which means that there would have been a high probability that interest in maintaining the protest would have diminished. [/quote] Actually, no. That was the crux of the issue at the time. The Thanksgiving holiday meant that the on-campus security was going to be lessened during the upcoming break.

    [quote]The students were on campus as just that “students”. The police were there explicitly stated to “protect them”. [/quote] The students weren’t JUST students. They were also protestors. And again…the very inability of the police to function as protectors during the holiday break was the VERY reason the decision was made (not by Pike) to dismantle the camp.

    [quote]If a rape had occurred, I would have blamed the rapist, not the UCD cops.[/quote] Me, too. However, we all know that the University would have been sued – and likely successfully- for allowing this encampment to remain despite it being against UC policy…and despite the growing concerns that the protest was drawing people from outside the UCD community. AND despite the rapes and violence at other OWS camps.

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