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Review panel finds UC Davis pepper-spraying of students “unreasonable”

(4/11) 13:38 PST — DAVIS, CALIF. —
A University of California task force issued a blistering report Wednesday on the Nov. 18, 2011 pepper-spraying of Occupy UC Davis protesters by campus police officers, ridiculing the police department and embattled Chancellor for “unreasonable” use-of-force against students.

The task force, assembled after UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike’s pepper-spraying of peacefully protesting students garnered worldwide attention, said the incident “should have and could have been prevented.”

The long-awaited report also criticized the UC Davis Police Department’s mishandling of the response and the failure of Chief Annette Spicuzza to issue clear commands to officers who were monitoring a growing Occupy protest on the university’s quad.

“The command and leadership structure of the UCDPD is very dysfunctional,” the panel found. “This breakdown is illustrated by the heated exchanges between the Chief and her Lieutenants as to the scope and conduct of the operation and the Chief’s apparent concession that her officers will do things their own way and there is nothing she can do about it.”

The panel criticized Chancellor Linda Katehi’s lack of communication to her police department to mitigate the use-of-force.

“Chancellor Katehi failed to express in any meaningful way her expectation that the police operation was to be sharply limited so that no use of force would be employed by police officers other than their demand that the tents be taken down,” the report read.

UC President Mark Yudof said he would work with Katehi to “repair the damage” caused by the infamous spraying on nonviolent students. Following the incident, students and some UC faculty members organized a recall petition and no-confidence votes against Katehi.

“Even a cursory reading of the report confirms what we have known from the start: Friday, Nov. 18 was a bad day for the UC Davis community and for the entire UC system,” Yudof said in a written statement.

The 12-person review panel was led by California Supreme Court Associate Justice Cruz Reynoso, a professor emeritus at the UC Davis School of Law. Los Angeles-based police procedure consulting firm Kroll Consulting was hired to conduct interviews.

The report redacted names of other officers involved in the skirmish after an Alameda County judge sided with the union representing UC Police, which sued to keep personal identifying information confidential.

Reynoso will hold a 3:30 p.m. town hall meeting at Freeborn Hall on the UC Davis campus to discuss the panel’s findings. The meeting will be streamed live at http://demonstrationreviews.ucdavis.edu/reynoso/meeting-webcast.html.

The full 190-page report can be downloaded in PDF form at http://demonstrationreviews.ucdavis.edu/.

Videos of the pepper-spraying of students can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdDLhPwpp4.

Contact the Beat at news@californiabeat.org.

One Comment »

  • Brandt Hardin said:

    When will we start holding officers accountable for their brutality and excessive use of force? The handling of protesters is Unconstitutional and endangers the basic rights of EVERY last American. Is this the country we were raised in, were men and women are beaten, gassed, pepper-sprayed and arrested for their disapproval of the government? We have to be careful to protect our Constitutional Rights! Raise awareness and do your part with these free posters I designed for the movement on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/11/propaganda-for-occupy-movement.html