UC Davis Approves Settlements in Pepper Spray Lawsuit

Image Credit: Wayne Tilcock for The Davis Enterprise

Officials at the University of California Davis have approved payouts of $30,000 to 21 protestors pepper-sprayed by Lt. John Pike, a UC Davis policeman attempting to breakup an Occupy Movement protest.

Under the pending agreement, which was announced Wednesday, the University of California would also pay $250,000 to plaintiffs’ attorneys. It also would set aside a $100,000 fund to pay as much as $20,000 to each individual who joins the class-action suit and can prove he was pepper-sprayed or arrested during the protest.

The money would come from the school system’s general liability risk program, a self-insured fund, the president’s office said.

During the November 2011 protest, about a dozen demonstrators were seated on a path with their arms interlocked as police moved in to clear out members of the Occupy movement who were camped in the area. Officers forcibly removed the demonstrators after they had been sprayed. UC Davis had declared the protest unlawful.

In addition to tuition increases and privatization, the demonstrators were protesting treatment of demonstrators at another campus — the University of California at Berkeley, according to the proposed settlement.

The plaintiffs alleged their civil rights were violated by being subjected to unlawful arrest and excessive force, the settlement papers said.

U.C. Davis placed Pike, a second officer and Campus Police Chief Annette Spicuzza on administrative leave after the incident.

An investigation into the incident revealed Pike had not used the pepper spray canister properly. Pike no longer works for UC-Davis, but it has not been released if he voluntarily quit or was fired.