by Nanette Asimov from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/No-charges-for-pepper-spraying-UC-cops-3882346.php]:
Davis police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray on protesters during an
Occupy demonstration in November 2011. Photo: Wayne Tilcock, Associated
image of UC Davis police calmly coating seated protesters with pepper
spray in November was shocking to the millions who saw it on videos gone
viral - but it wasn't a criminal act, the Yolo County district attorney
At issue was whether officers broke the law on Nov.
18 by using the chemical irritant on 21 students during a protest over
In a 12-page report issued this week, the district
attorney's office describes UC police trying to remove a group of
arrested students while surrounded by protesters chanting, "Set them
free!" A smaller group then linked arms and sat down across the walkway,
blocking the officers' exit route.
In the videos, Lt. John Pike of
the campus police is seen slowly and deliberately spraying the students,
pausing to shake the can before continuing. At least one other officer,
Alexander Lee, is also seen spraying.
By linking arms, the seated
protesters engaged in "active" rather than "passive" resistance,
according to the district attorney's report, which relied not only on
the officers' accounts but on University of California-commissioned
studies of the incident, on experts in the use of force, and on UC
Officers may use pepper spray when they encounter active resistance, the report says.
whether the officers used the chemical in an unlawful manner - 11
students were treated for the effects of pepper spray and two were taken
to the hospital - could not be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt," says
"Lt. Pike's pepper spraying of the seated protesters has
been seen by and has outraged millions of viewers throughout the
world," the report says, but adds that the decision about whether to
prosecute considered a broader context, including the officers' belief,
discredited in hindsight, that they were surrounded by a hostile mob.
There were between 200 and 250 protesters, said Mike Cabral, assistant chief deputy of the district attorney's office.
and Lee, who had been on paid leave, left their jobs in July. Pike's
attorneys did not return calls for comment. But Pike told the Sacramento
Bee that he was relieved that he would not be charged. After the
incident, Pike had been deluged with harassing phone calls, e-mails and
visits to his home.
UC officials declined to comment, as did several students who were pepper-sprayed.
21 are in the process of settling their civil lawsuit against UC, which
the regents approved Sept. 13. The American Civil Liberties Union,
representing the students, expects to file the settlement in federal
court in Sacramento next week. The terms will then become public, said
spokeswoman Rebecca Farmer.
This incident and the forceful use of
batons on students by UC Berkeley police in November prompted UC
officials to examine their response to protests across the 10-campus
system. UC spent nearly $1 million on two studies, outside attorneys and
insurance, said Steve Montiel, a UC spokesman.
-- To see the video, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6AdDLhPwpp4