UC Davis chancellor says police defied her orders when they used pepper spray on protesters

Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 11:03 am
November 22, 2011
UC Davis chancellor says police defied her orders when they used pepper spray on protesters
By Sam Stanton | McClatchy Newspapers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the tent city on the University of California, Davis, tripled in size, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi insisted Tuesday that the school's police department defied her orders when it used force against students in last week's pepper spray fiasco.

"We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment," Katehi said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee in her office inside the administration building, which remains locked down to the public.

"We told them very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them not to do it, if the students were aggressive not to do it. And then we told them we also do not want to have another Berkeley."

In her most expansive comments since Friday's attempt to remove the tents spiraled into the pepper spraying of students, Katehi said she still does not know who decided to use pepper spray and was stunned when she first saw video clips of it Friday night.

"It looked horrible, horrific, I would say...," Katehi said. "I can tell you that I woke up Saturday really early in the morning, like 3 a.m., and I felt like it was a disaster on our hands."

She also said she never would have approved the use of full-scale riot gear by officers sent in to remove the students and that Police Chief Annette Spicuzza was part of an emergency conference call before the incident.

"We told her that it has to be peaceful, that anything else would not be acceptable," Katehi said one day after Spicuzza was placed on administrative leave along with two officers who used the pepper spray.

Spicuzza did not respond to a message left at her home Tuesday, but she has previously said the officers used the pepper spray because they were being cut off from other police by the students. Video clips that have surfaced so far do not show that happening.

Katehi said that Spicuzza indicated Saturday it was Lt. John Pike who decided to use the pepper spray.

"I believe on Saturday when I spoke with her I said, 'What happened?'" Katehi said. "She tried to explain that it was the decision of Lt. Pike."

Pike's voice mail has been full since Sunday and he could not be reached.

Video clips of the officers spraying students who were sitting peacefully on the ground have been viewed online by millions of people since Friday and resulted in widespread calls for Katehi to resign.

She has resisted those calls and met with student groups several times Tuesday, including an afternoon session at which she said she would call for all charges against 10 individuals in Friday's incident - nine of them students - to be dropped.

She also said UC Davis and the UC system would cover all medical expenses incurred by students who were pepper sprayed.

The effort last Friday to remove the campers, who had gathered to protest tuition hikes as a part of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, backfired almost immediately.

After a Monday rally attended by thousands of students, faculty and others at which Katehi apologized, groups once again began to erect tents on the quad. By Tuesday, there were more than 75 tents and Katehi said she would seek negotiations to coax them into leaving rather than take renewed police action.

Meanwhile, she has ordered police to remain ready to help campers if some sort of emergency arises, but to stay out of sight.

"They are on call, but they are not visible," she said, adding that the school has brought in portable restrooms and is looking into providing facilities for food and drink to maintain a healthy environment.

Katehi visited the growing encampment at least twice on Tuesday with mixed results. In the morning, she said she was able to speak with 20 to 30 students and "had a very good discussion."

She was invited back about 11 a.m. during the group's general assembly. But after she waited quietly for 20 minutes, the students could not agree on whether to deviate from their agenda to allow her to speak and she finally walked away.

On her way back to her office, Katehi was greeted by a number of students who expressed their support for her and said they do not believe she had approved of officers using force against the students.

"She was worried about the safety of the students," said Kiran Ashan, a psychology junior.

"And I just feel that those (campers), some of them are from Occupy Sacramento, they're not even Davis students," Ashan said. "What are they doing on a Davis campus?

The use of force by campus police at Davis and Berkeley against protesters has resulted in a system-wide review by UC officials, and the Legislature agreed Tuesday to hold hearings on the matter.

In addition, UC President Mark Yudof announced that he has asked William Bratton, who has headed police forces in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, to conduct an independent review of Friday's incident.

Katehi said the policies campuses use to respond to encampments need to be changed as a result of the latest incidents.

University officials must "recognize that we are a campus of the 21st century and students have different needs and different expectations of how to express themselves, and yet we have protocols of 30 or 40 years ago," she said. "And we have a police force that has been trained for the incidents we dealt with 20 or 30 years ago."

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/11/22/131113/uc-davis-chancellor-says-police.html#ixzz1eY54YqfC
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Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 11:53 am
It sounds to me more like Katehi just didn't expect it to be filmed and distributed to the public.

As for the psych student, Kiran Ashan, I am left confused and irritated by this comment: "
"And I just feel that those (campers), some of them are from Occupy Sacramento, they're not even Davis students," Ashan said.

Oh. Does this mean it's alright to pepper spray them, because they are from elsewhere? That appears to be what Ashan is saying. Pepper spray to your hearts content, just not our precious little darlings. As a psych major one would hope this student (currently a Junior) would have a smidgen more compassion towards all people. The mental health industry will do well with the likes of Ashan in their midst. Rolling Eyes

Ashan also asked: "What are they doing on a Davis campus?"

Um, it's a protest dear. People at protests come from various places and show their support, that's what they were doing at the school.

At any rate, I am not buying into Katehi's performance, or the blame game which she and Police Chief Spicuzza are playing. If they didn't know, then they are neither one of them fit to be in their current position of authority, they have a responsibility to be aware what is happening on the school grounds and under their watch. Communication lines should have been kept open at all times from the moment the first protester arrived on campus. If they did know what might well happen and approved (even in a roundabout way), then they should be brought up on charges related to intentional cruelty and causing harm.
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Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2012 10:42 am
Judge rejects UC Davis pepper-spray report secrecy
s. stanto - Sacramento Bee
Mar. 16, 2012

The report on the November pepper-spraying of students and protesters at UC Davis likely will be ordered released today, although a potential court appeal may delay public release until at least April 2.

In a tentative ruling issued late Thursday, an Alameda Superior Court judge indicated he was not swayed by arguments from an attorney for the campus police involved in the incident that releasing the report with officers' names is illegal under state law.

Instead, Judge Evelio Grillo said in his 16-page tentative ruling that the report does not contain any confidential information regarding campus officers and that it does not recommend disciplinary action against any of the officials involved in the Nov. 18 incident.

"The report is a compilation of public information that would have been available to an investigative journalist or member of the public who took the time and expended the effort to make a Public Records Act request, review videos posted on YouTube and elsewhere, and locate and interview witnesses," the judge wrote.

He added that the university system "will suffer substantial harm if they cannot disclose and discuss information and recommendations regarding the incident ... ."

The judge, who read a copy of the report that was provided to him under seal, also gave the first hints at its contents, including indications that both university police and administrators can expect to face criticism over the pepper-spray incident.

The investigative report is "extensive and detailed," the judge wrote. And the subsequent task force report based on that investigation "assigns responsibility to the UC Davis administration and to members of the (campus police)." "The report considers various decision points in the incident and describes how and why those decisions were made by specific individuals," the judge wrote. "The report then assigns responsibility to specific individuals, including police officers, for various specific decisions."

The judge's tentative ruling, which is expected to be issued formally today at a hearing in Oakland, stems from a legal feud over a months-long investigation of the pepper-spray incident.

The episode played out after students and supporters set up a tent encampment on the campus quad, part of a multi-day protest of rising college costs. After demonstrators refused orders to remove the tents and disperse, campus police moved in and, in videos that the judge noted have since become an "Internet meme," Lt. John Pike began spraying a group of protesters who had linked arms and were sitting on the ground.

The videos sparked worldwide controversy, and amid the uproar that followed, UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi maintained that she never would have approved police moving on the students if she had known force would be used.

Three campus officers were put on paid leave following the incident: Pike, Chief Annette Spicuzza and a third whose name has not been made public. In addition, Katehi commissioned an independent investigation, which gave rise to a task force led by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso.

The task force report relies on an investigation carried out by Kroll, a security consulting firm led by former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. The task force planned to make the report public earlier this month, but the union representing the campus officers sought a court order halting release.

Union attorney John Bakhit argued that releasing the report with officers' names and potentially damaging information about their conduct is illegal under state laws and court rulings that afford California peace officers strong privacy protections.

The judge appears set to reject that argument, although his tentative ruling gives Bakhit time to appeal before the entire report is released. The judge indicated that he would stay his ruling until April 2 to give the union time to go to the appellate court.

Bakhit's cellphone was not accepting calls Thursday night, and he did not respond to an email request for comment.

However, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which joined the case to press for release of the documents, said he had seen court filings from Bakhit indicating he would appeal.

Michael Risher, from the ACLU's Northern California branch, said he was pleased with the tentative ruling and hoped that some portions of the report could be released following today's hearing.

"Our position is that the public has a right to this information," Risher said.

UC Davis spokesman Barry Shiller said he had not seen the judge's written comments and did not want to comment before speaking with university attorneys.
Reply Fri 13 Apr, 2012 12:20 pm
Task force says police should not have used pepper-spray on protesters at Calif university
By Associated Press
April 11. 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — A University of California task force said Wednesday that UC Davis police should not have used pepper-spray on student demonstrators in an incident that prompted national outrage and calls for the chancellor’s resignation after online videos of the confrontation went viral.

The decision by officers to douse a line of seated Occupy protesters with the eye-stinging chemical was “objectively unreasonable” and not authorized by campus policy, according to the report by a UC Davis task force created to investigate the incident.

“The pepper-spraying incident that took place on Nov. 18, 2011, should and could have been prevented,” the task force concluded in the long-awaited report.

Lt. John Pike and other officers involved in the operation have said they needed to use pepper spray to break through a hostile crowd. But the investigation determined police were able to step over the seated protesters and walk through a throng of onlookers.

The report said Pike, who was not interviewed by task force investigators, used a pepper-spray canister that was larger than the one campus police officers are authorized and trained to use.

The task force also blamed poor communication and planning throughout the campus chain of command, from Chancellor Linda Katehi to Police Chief Annette Spicuzza to Pike, the main officer shown in the widely viewed online video.

The task force blamed the chancellor for not clearly communicating to her subordinates that police should avoid physical force on the protesters. It also said she was responsible for the decision to deploy police on a Friday afternoon, rather than wait until early morning as Spicuzza recommended.

The report chided the police chief for failing to challenge the timing of the operation and not providing clear instructions to the responding officers.

The task force, led by retired California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, was scheduled to present the report at a public meeting at UC Davis on Wednesday afternoon. School administrators said they would not comment on the report until after that meeting.

Mark Yudof, who heads the 10-campus system, said he planned to meet with Katehi to discuss implementation of the recommendations.

A separate university task force is working on a report on how school officials should respond to student protests at all 10 UC campuses, he said.

“Free speech, including nonviolent protest, is part of the DNA of this university, and it must be protected with vigilance,” Yudof said in a statement. “I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful fashion, and I expect campus authorities to honor that right.”

An attorney for the campus police officers union did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Pike and other officers involved in the incident.

UC Davis published the task force findings and recommendations online a day after a judge approved its release without the names of most officers involved in the clash.

The report was originally set for release March 6, but the campus police officers’ union sued to keep the document under wraps. It claimed the report contained confidential personnel records that should not be publicly released under state law.

Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo ruled last month that the university could release the entire report but must redact the names of all officers except Pike and Spicuzza, whose identities became known during media coverage.


(The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock, File/Associated Press) - FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2011 file photo, University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school’s quad in Davis, Calif. The University of California plans to publish a long-awaited report on the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators by UC Davis police last fall online at noon Wednesday, April 11, 2012 a day after an Alameda County judge approved its publication without the names of most officers involved in the Nov. 18 clash.

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