Pepper Sprayed Students File Suit Against UC Davis

Image Credit: Wayne Tilcock for The Davis Enterprise

Several students who were pepper-sprayed by UC Davis officers while protesting peacefully on campus have filed suit against the university. The suit also names Linda Katehi, the UC Davis Chancellor, several campus administrators, and the police officers involved in the incident. The lawsuit is a result of a November 2011 incident, filmed by students, that made national news.

[The suit] details allegations against campus Police Lt. John Pike, who the suit says sprayed the seated or crouching protesters at a distance of one to two feet, causing burning pain to their eyes and faces.

The students are seeking financial damages and policy changes in how UC handles protests.

“Our goal in this lawsuit is to ensure the university makes a clear commitment to protect free speech on campus and prevent this from ever happening again,” said Michael Risher, a staff attorney with American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California, which is helping to represent the students.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of California and is expected to be heard in a Sacramento court. LA Times, 22 Feb 2012.

The UC Davis Faculty System quickly renounced both the incident and the approval by the Chancellor to use police force to remove the protestors, calling it a “”gross failure of leadership” and demanding Katehi’s resignation.