Former UC Davis Lt. John Pike filed a worker’s compensation claim for injuries suffered on November 18, 2011, during the incident in which he doused protesters with pepper spray on the UC Davis Quad.
While much of the information remains confidential, protected under privacy and other rights, the form indicates that the impact was “psychiatric” and affected the “nervous system.”
The case is scheduled for a hearing on August 13 in Sacramento in front of an administrative law judge, according to the State Department of Industrial Relations website. It is scheduled as a settlement conference and, if no settlement is reached, the case would move forward to trial.
The Vanguard spoke with Andy Fell from the UC Davis News Service who was unsure as to whether the university could comment on the matter or what information was public. He never called back on Thursday afternoon.
“Apparently, Officer Pike experienced so much emotional trauma when pepper spraying those kids that he’s applying for full disability income, retirement, and benefits,” said Bernie Goldsmith, a long-time Davis resident and attorney. “Why shouldn’t he get a payout of millions in retirement income?”
On July 31, 2012, the university confirmed that Lt. John Pike was no longer a university employee. We would learn a week later that the university had in fact fired Lt. Pike.
The Bee would report, “Pike was fired Tuesday after UC Davis Police Chief Matthew Carmichael rejected the findings and wrote in a letter to Pike that ‘the needs of the department do not justify your continued employment,’ according to the documents.”
“For reasons detailed in this report, we conclude that Lieutenant Pike’s use of pepper spray was reasonable under the circumstances,” the report states. “The visual of Lieutenant Pike spraying the seated protesters is indeed disturbing.
“However, it also fails to tell other important parts of the story.”
Cruz Reynoso, whose task force reviewed the report written by former LA Police Chief William Bratton and his firm, Kroll, strongly disputed the validity of the findings.
“Based on the newspaper accounts… it appears that the review was superficial and reached an incorrect conclusion that Lt. Pike had acted correctly under the circumstances,” Cruz Reynoso said.
He added, “As the Task Force concluded, the Pepper Spray never should have been utilized under those circumstances. There was absolutely no danger to the officers and they could have executed their duties in a completely legal proper way without using pepper spray.”
The Executive Board of the University of California Davis Police Officers Association later in August 2012 released an open letter to the UC Board of Regents protesting the decision to fire Lt. Pike for his actions on November 18, 2011.
They wrote, “While the Board fully supports the appointment of Police Chief Carmichael and the positive changes he is implementing, we do not approve of the decision to disregard the findings of the internal affairs investigation and the sufficiency review board as it relates to Lieutenant Pike’s termination.”
The open letter from the police officer’s union notes that the Sacramento Bee‘s reporting of the IA revealed that “the investigation found that Lieutenant Pike was justified with his use of pepper spray under the circumstances. The internal affairs investigation did not recommend discipline for Lieutenant Pike due to the use of force issue, rather other aspects of the events that day.”
They add, “Additionally, the discipline recommendations did not include termination, but rather demotion or suspension. He should not have been terminated from The UC Davis Police Department.”
In May of 2012, following the release of the Kroll Report and the Cruz Reynoso Task Force report with the names of police officers redacted, the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee argued that the public and press interests were not represented in the agreement to suppress the names of officers who were involved.
In a case that is likely destined for the state’s Supreme Court, the First Appellate District, Division Four, ruled in favor of the newspapers and ordered the release of the names of 12 officers named in the two reports commissioned by the University of California Regents.
“The reports reviewed the facts leading up to the pepper spray incident, made conclusions regarding responsibility for the incident, and concluded with policy recommendations to ensure that such a polarizing incident did not reoccur,” the court notes. “However, the names of more than a dozen UC police officers who planned, participated in, and/or witnessed the pepper spray incident were redacted from the reports.”
The court writes, “We agree with the trial court that the identities of the officers named in the reports must be disclosed because this information does not fall within any category of exempted information under section 832.7, subdivision (a). “
On November 18, 2011, UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike was videotaped dousing pepper spray in a methodical fashion, on what appeared to be a row of nonviolent and seated protestors at close range after their failure to follow orders to disburse.
The incident led to national and worldwide news coverage and two publicly released reports commissioned by UC President Mark Yudof, one produced by Kroll – which is run by former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. He also appointed former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso to chair a task force (the Reynoso Task Force) to examine the pepper-spray incident.
The result of these investigations led to the retirement of Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, the firing of Lt. Pike and the firing of a second officer whom the Vanguard identified as Officer Alexander Lee.