Sac Bee and LA Times Sue For Names of the Redacted Officers in Kroll Report



On April 26, the Vanguard ran a second article removing any doubt that the second officer involved in the pepper spray incident was Alexander Lee, recently promoted from security guard in the UC Davis Police Department to police officer.

A few days later, the Davis Enterprise ran a follow-up story also naming Officer Alexander Lee, and noting that university officials had confirmed there were only three officers suspended over the pepper-spray incident and that they were all UC Davis officers.

Nevertheless and despite the fact that two local news entities have known for certain the identity of the second pepper-spraying officer for nearly a month, the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee filed suit on Wednesday against the UC Board of Regents in which they demand the release of police officers’ names that were removed from the Reynoso and Kroll Reports.

The Vanguard has named just two of the officers involved. Along with Officer Alexander Lee is also scene commander, Lt. Barry Swartwood.  We could have named them all, but believe only those two are really implicated in the incident.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times this morning, “The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, contends that when university officials agreed in a court settlement last month to redact all but two names, they ‘failed to represent the interests of the press and public,’ leaving the newspapers with ‘no choice but to bring this petition to protect the public’s right of access to this important information.’ “

The Times article notes, “Wednesday’s litigation is the latest tussle over transparency in the matter.”  They cite the union’s efforts to block release of key portions of the reports back in March where UC Officials argued for the full release of the reports, but eventually in the name of expediency allowed the reports to be released with only the names of Lt. Pike and former UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza – whose identities were widely known – to be released.

The LA Times reports, “UC officials said they acquiesced to the settlement last month to expedite the already delayed report. But reporters for the Sacramento Bee and the Times continued to pursue access to the names under the California Public Records Act.”

They add, “In denying the newspapers’ requests, UC officials said the judge’s permanent injunction barred them from revealing the names.”

The paper adds, “Attorney Thomas R. Burke, who is representing the newspapers, countered Wednesday that Pike’s declaration presented ‘only speculative concerns about his safety’ and ‘didn’t have anything to say about the other officers.’ “

“It’s far more important to make sure that people responsible for spraying industrial-grade pepper spray into the eyes of passive students are fully accountable for their involvement,” Mr. Burke said. In commissioning the Reynoso task force, he added, the Regents “wanted an unvarnished public explanation of what happened and that is a mission that we are trying to fulfill with this litigation.”

“In particular, the idea that government agents can anonymously plan and execute operations using chemical weapons against protesters in the public square is antithetical to the most fundamental notions of democracy, which depend upon public scrutiny of official conduct,” the suit said as reported by the Sacramento Bee this morning. “The Regents’ withholding of the names of the officers also contradicts California law, which requires officers to wear name tags on their uniforms.”

UC Davis Spokesperson Barry Schiller will get the Vanguard additional information this morning.

The Vanguard published the name of Officer Alexander Lee back on March 27 after getting  ahold of a photo from November 27 that depicted Officer A. Lee.

The Enterprise apparently had these photos, as well, as they reported: “Still photographs show the second officer’s name badge as reading ‘A. Lee.’ The Enterprise has been attempting to obtain the officer’s first name for months, without success.”

The Enterprise attempted to obtain the name of the officer through the front door, going to considerable lengths to determine Officer Lee’s identity.

As a December 23, 2011 email from Chief Counsel Steven Drown to Debbie Davis, Editor of the Davis Enterprise, indicates, there was a meeting between staff of the Enterprise, along with CalAware’s Terry Franke and UC Davis officials to “discuss Cory’s request for the name of the second UC Davis Police Department officer who used pepper spray during the November 18, 2011, campus conflict.”

Mr. Drown argued that, under the circumstances of this case, the officer’s name is exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act.

Mr. Drown would argue that “the disclosure of the officer’s name, given other publicly available information, would indicate that the officer is the subject of a University internal affairs investigation concerning the November 18 incident.”  He adds, “It was my view that this information is a confidential personnel record under Penal Code section 832.7 and 832.8, which cannot be disclosed to the public unless a ‘Pitchess Motion’ has been granted by a reviewing court.”

So here you have a case where the UC Davis Chief Campus Counsel argues that this is protected under Penal Code Sections 832.7 and 832.8 and a few months later, at least initially, UC’s General Counsel Charles Robinson is arguing the opposite.

Mr. Drown added, “As you know, the name of one of the officers, Lieutenant John Pike, became widely known due to his identification by onlookers and widely broadcast electronic media. The name of the second officer is not widely known.”

“To disclose the name of the second officer now would disclose the fact that the officer is subject to an internal affairs investigation, which is confidential personnel information exempt from disclosure under the authorities described above.”

Mr. Drown then went on to cite Copley Press v. Superior Court of San Diego County, where the “California Supreme Court found that the name of a peace officer who was subject to disciplinary action was protected from disclosure.”

The Vanguard was able to put several key pieces of information together.  A week of November 14-18 active roster showed the name “A. Lee,” matching the picture from the Davis Wiki.  A full name was acquired from the June 2011 roster which showed Alexander Lee, the only Lee in the UC Davis Police Department as a security guard.

Finally a later request showed that Alexander Lee was a police officer.

To recap.  We know that A. Lee was on the active duty roster for the week of November 14-18.  We know from his picture he was a police officer.  We confirmed it was Alexander Lee with the June 2011 duty roster which showed that Alexander Lee was a security guard.  We also know that there was only one Officer Lee working at UCDPD at the time.  And we know that Officer Lee is now a police officer.  Put it all together and we have clear and convincing evidence that A. Lee is Officer Lee.

There will be a tendency to dismiss the suit by the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times as the aim to discover what we already know.  However, there are some crucial legal fights that are quite frankly worth fighting.

One of Cruz Reynoso’s chief complaints about the process was the ability of officers to hide their identities and misconduct behind the Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights.  To the extent that a lawsuit can tear down those protections – even if we can easily find out who the officers are in the report – then it is worthwhile.

Moreover, the fact that it was simple to discover the names of the police officers is aside from the point because in future incidents the misconduct may not have 60 video recordings with which to identify the officers.

Finally, to be quite clear, the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times still have the resources to have in-house attorneys who can make these kinds of challenges.  The Vanguard‘s suit against the city of the Davis, much smaller in scope, relied on the generosity of a very capable attorney.  It is doubtful an entity like ours would have the resources to take on the peace officer’s union and UC.

—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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23 thoughts on “Sac Bee and LA Times Sue For Names of the Redacted Officers in Kroll Report”

  1. Mr.Toad

    Are you going to put up any thing about Vice Chancellor Fred Wood taking a job as Chancellor of a small university in MN.?

    Greg Kuperberg and I had a discussion where he told me that if Katehi went then Wood and Meyer would have to go too. I had predicted that Wood would go back to teaching but I underestimated how this incident would weigh in Dr. Wood’s brilliant career.

    Sadly, after almost 30 years of service at UCD, Fred Wood is leaving. It would be interesting to see if the date on his application was before or after the pepper spray incident as there is usually a long lead time in choosing a Chancellor. Knowing the date of application would tell us whether he is moving up the career college administration path or bailing out.

  2. Mr.Toad

    “MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (01/17/2012) —University of Minnesota, Crookston, Chancellor Charles H. Casey, D.V.M., plans to retire at the end of the 2011–12 academic year.”

    So Fred Wood is both moving up and bailing out. No mention of Pepper in the U. of MN. press release announcing him being selected.

  3. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – Actually, what I said was there no logical way to ask Katehi to resign without also asking Meyer and Wood to resign. That’s not quite the same as “have to”. To a great extent the whole story has been a campaign against logic. It didn’t quite look that way on November 18th and the weekend after, because the administration had screwed up so badly. But by the time of the occupation of the cross-cultural cottage and the US Bank blockade, the truth had come out, logic is the real enemy.

    The shadow that November 18 casts on Fred Wood is that Griselda Castro was his direct subordinate. I do not know the real dynamic between Wood and Castro, or the real reasons that Wood is leaving, but it is true that that special committee of the Academic Senate asked Wood to resign.

    Meanwhile the UM Crookston needs a chancellor with administrative experience and they offered Fred Wood a raise from $210K to $227K. His pay is going from 9.6 milliRomneys to 10.4 milliRomneys. Crookston is a CSU-level college with fewer students than Davis Senior High, so this is more of a lateral step than a step up. Wood’s recruitment away from Davis is a little-noticed message of logic. Public university administrators aren’t hired and paid to humor the angry protester. If that’s all there was to it, they’d be as ill-paid and fractious as the typical California city council. No, they are hired to do a job, in a competitive job market. Wood’s compensation is in the top 5%, but that is only pocket money to real oligarchs such as Mitt Romney, or George Maloof (who owns the Sacramento Kings), or Rene Medina (who raises money for Leland Yee).

  4. Mr.Toad

    I should have said I overestimated how the pepper spray incident would weigh in Dr. Wood’s brilliant career. What further loss can we expect? Possibly Josh Clover getting hired away by Reed or someplace cooler. Will John Meyer get hired as city manager of Reno or someplace bigger? We will see what other shoes drop before this is all over. Take all the shots you want at Leland Yee but the real problem in the legislature is the de-funding of education in general.

    As for your wealth measure of milliRomneys, is that an official metric unit of the System International? Be careful Greg, Antoine Lavosier, the inventor of the metric sytem and the discoverer of the element oxygen went to the guillotine in the French Revolution. His crime? He had been a tax collector for the Bourbon kings. In those days to be a scientist you needed a day job. Of course the way things are going at UC we are headed that way once again.

  5. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – I totally agree that the real problem is the state budget cuts. Which is not the way that Leland Yee or Occupy UC Davis tell it. They have said, over and over again, that the real problem is fat cat administrators — like Fred Wood. When I said that it’s a campaign against logic, that’s exactly what I meant.

    Sure, if you like, I’m adding the milliRomney to the metric system. Fred Wood is paid 10 milliRomneys, by definition Romney is paid 1,000 milliRomneys (or he was in 2010). And your joke about Lavoisier is a good one, and not entirely a joke. Lavoisier was a competent reformer who wanted to do good for the new France. But [i]les enragés[/i] did not care about that. They did not want logical rule any more than they wanted monarchy; the new king was their wild emotions.

  6. Mr.Toad

    “They did not want logical rule any more than they wanted monarchy; the new king was their wild emotions.”

    No they wanted blood, they wanted vengeance. Now they just didn’t want to owe too many milliRomneys when they got out.

    It is funny that it takes a math professor to debunk the notion that UC administrators are the ultra rich. I’ve done my best to teach powers of ten all these years but when your income is in the ten to the third range ten to the fifth seems as far away as ten to the seventh or a Romney.

  7. Mr.Toad

    One thing about fat cat administrators. The finest form of leadership is by example. When everyone else has their back to the wall raises at the top fail the leadership by example test. When you are a figurehead you make a good target.

  8. eagle eye

    For historical accuracy and family pride, Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen and Lavosier named it and included it in his list of elements.
    Priestley also discovered how to make soda water so it did not have to be imported to England from the springs in France.

  9. Mr.Toad

    Priestley also was a founder of Unitarianism, an author of grammar and an early experimenter of electricity. His work on electricty influenced Maxwell, Cavendish, Volta, Faraday and Herschel.

    He also starred in 90210.

  10. 91 Octane

    two things:

    a.) we have read this article before.
    b.) since we r going to criticize romney for being rich, how much exactly, was john kerry worth, marrying a woman for her money? John edwards?

  11. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – It would be sad if people truly have to wait for a university math professor to accept number sense at the level of basic grade school arithmetic. In particular, it does not actually require a grasp of some extreme exponential scale. Because, which students are “up against the wall”, given that in-state students with up to $80K in family income don’t have to pay UC tuition? This is the hysterical terminology that has arisen in the protests against the budget:

    $80K – up against the wall
    $200K – fat cat

    Again, this is not actually about understanding many powers of ten. It’s about jerking people around with words that don’t match the numbers. It will get to the point that the some of those “up against the wall” make more money than some of the “fat cats”. If it isn’t already at that point. When people take stock in poor arithmetic, then hypocrisy is inevitably around the corner.

  12. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – Also, since mention Joshua Clover, first of all, if he gets an offer from Reed, more power to him. By all accounts he is a a good poet and I certainly would never be able to win a Pushcart Prize.

    However, he’s not the only accomplished member of the English Department. Gary Snyder won the Pulitzer prize, while Yiyun Li won a MacArthur. (And they each won a Pushcart, as did Clarence Major and Pam Houston.) In the face of potential outside offers, the English department takes a remarkably egalitarian approach. Clover only got tenure around age 40, while Yiyun Li is still just an associate professor.

    If Clover did go to Reed, it would be interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that student tuition there is $44K. The other is that, while the faculty pay scale is moderately higher than at UC Davis, the teaching loads are also higher. Still, if he went to Reed, I wouldn’t criticize it at all. Because an open, honest job market is a better path to good compensation than unionization.

  13. Greg Kuperberg

    91 Octane – The problem is not that Romney is rich. I knew a guy in college who is now 6 Romneys, an outright billionaire, for no reason other than birthright. He’s a perfectly nice guy and a I have nothing against him as a person. No, the problem is that I pay taxes at a higher rate than Romney does, even though I’m in the single-digit milliRomneys. Even that is not a reason to criticize Romney himself. The problem with Romney is that he wants to skew the tax code even further in his favor. No thank you, I’d rather vote for someone who cuts my taxes, or better yet, the taxes of people poorer than me.

    And the other problem is the way that people lose track of different numerical scales. Sometimes willfully so. Yes, a typical UC chancellor is paid $400K, which is 19 milliRomneys. No, this is not “acting like Enron and AIG”, to cite Leland Yee’s honesty-deficient phrase. In 1999, Ken Lay, the CEO of Enron, paid himself 2 Romneys, or 2,000 milliRomneys. Yes, $400K and $42 million are both “a lot”, but a $400K house (which is a bit below the median in Davis) is not the same thing as a $42 million megamansion.

  14. 91 Octane

    a) your talking points didn’t just come out yesterday. They have been on the vanguard for months.
    b) I would suggest the tax code is complicated. and unfortunately, I don’t have exactly what romney said or didn’t say in front of me to determine if what you claimed romney supports is accurate. Second, raising anyones taxes right now, rich or otherwise, is not going to help our economy recover.

  15. Mr.Toad

    Its been a long time since i paid tuition but I know some young people who got out of school with debt and can’t find a job that pays a living wage. What their parents make likely loses its importance after they graduate unless they move back home, something, I am sure, most students were hoping to avoid.

    While tuition is a major cost of an education it is not the only one. There are other expenses too.

    My point though is that leadership by example would mean that you don’t ask others to sacrifice without sacrificing yourself. Otherwise it is difficult to earn respect.

  16. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – All I can say is that [i]my[/i] respect is based on sound accounting. The phrase “shared sacrifice” alienates me because it is both defeatist and a euphemism for financial Calvinball.

    Suppose that you own a house in Davis and you want to sell it for $500K, the market value. Suppose that a prospective buyer says, “Mr. homeowner, I’m hurting, I can’t afford your house for $500K. You only paid $200K for it, so why don’t we split the difference and make it $350K?” Needless to say, this kind of talk is maddening nonsense on stilts. For any number of reasons. Even if you did offer your house for $350K, the buyer could just label that as your greedy starting price and ask for $275K out of shared sacrifice. Besides, you don’t know the buyer’s true neediness, and it’s not really your business.

    Only public universities are expected to do all things for all people, and the fact is, they already do a lot for income equality. They pay better than the private sector at the low end and (much) less well at the high end. They also have highly progressive pricing in the form of financial aid. If a poor buyer wants a car, it’s exactly the same price as if a rich buyer wants the same car. If it’s instead a university education, the low-income buyer is charged a lot less. (And I have only limited sympathy for your scenario of the low-income student with high-income parents, unless it is a student who can establish financial independence.)

    Many of the people who talk as if universities are greedy in the face of so many progressive policies are only thinking of themselves. Some of them are annoyed at financial policies that are TOO progressive; they talk as if they’re poor when actually they are not that poor.

    So I have no use for this “shared sacrifice” phrase as a way to run a university. Instead the way it works is this. I am paid what public universities are willing to pay me. I live modestly and I give to charity. But not to UC undergraduates; my charity goes to truly needy people in the third world. If society thinks that there is something wrong with my income level, then it should raise income taxes. Even though it’s highly dubious that astronomically wealthy people like Mitt Romney pay taxes at a lower rate than me, I pay my taxes without complaining.

    And if California thinks that UC tuition is too high, then it should subsidize it. It should not demand off-market loyalty from anyone who works for UC in the name of “shared sacrifice”. After all, do you really think that Fred Wood — who you said you admire — is some sort of traitor for going to a public university in Minnesota for higher pay.

  17. 91 Octane

    There will be a tendency to dismiss the suit by the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times as the aim to discover what we already know. However, there are some crucial legal fights that are quite frankly worth fighting.

    One of Cruz Reynoso’s chief complaints about the process was the ability of officers to hide their identities and misconduct behind the Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights. To the extent that a lawsuit can tear down those protections – even if we can easily find out who the officers are in the report – then it is worthwhile.

    Moreover, the fact that it was simple to discover the names of the police officers is aside from the point because in future incidents the misconduct may not have 60 video recordings with which to identify the officers.

  18. 91 Octane

    the “new information” as you put it is not new, because it is largely the papers talking points, and those talking points are basically the same as the frikin’ vanguards.

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