Lieutenant John Pike came to symbolize law enforcement aggression against anti-Wall Street protests at the time when video footage widely aired on TV and the Internet showed him casually dousing demonstrators in the face with a can of pepper spray as they sat on the ground.
In June of this year, Pike filed a worker's compensation claim with UC Davis over the incident, saying he suffered unspecified psychiatric and nervous system damage, though the document did not explain how he claimed to have been harmed, records show.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Pike had earned more than $110,000 from his job in 2010, citing a database of state worker salaries from the last year for which figures are available.
The Chronicle said he had received more than 17,000 angry or threatening emails, 10,000 text messages and hundreds of letters after the video of the pepper-spraying went viral, and that he repeatedly changed his phone number, e-mail address and lived in various locations.
"Consistent with privacy guidelines established in state law and university policy, I can confirm that John Pike's employment with the university ended on July 31, 2012," Shiller said. "I'm unable to comment further."
Pike, 39, declined to comment when reached by The Bee as he was sitting in a meeting on campus where he said he was being terminated.
Pike's 2010 salary was listed as $110,243.12. He has been on paid leave since the debacle unfolded last year, sparking worldwide outrage, numerous investigations and calls for the resignation of UC Davis leaders.
Annette M. Spicuzza, the embattled UC Davis police chief who came under fire in last week's report on what led to the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident on campus, has decided to retire, according to an email statement received by The Bee today.
"My 27 years in law enforcement have been dedicated to the ethical and committed service to the departments and communities I have been proud to be a part of," the statement read. "For the past seven years, I have accomplished many good things for both the Police Department and community here at UC Davis; and am grateful to those of you who have remembered this.
"As the university does not want this incident to be its defining moment, nor do I wish for it to be mine. I believe in order to start the healing process, this chapter of my life must be closed."
Spicuzza and Lt. John Pike, who pepper-sprayed UC Davis students participating in a non-violent protest on campus have both been on paid leave while internal affairs conducted an investigation of the incident.
Last week, a task force issued a report blaming the incident on poor planning, communication and decision-making at all levels of the school's administration.
The report was especially critical of Chief Spicuzza, Lt. Pike and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.
No doubt you all remember the shocking pepper spray attack on peaceful student protesters at UC Davis last November. Today the report into that incident has been released and the results are damning, accusing the Chancellor of poor leadership and concluding that the use of pepper spray was unjustified and should have been prevented. The laissez-faire attitude of the UC Davis police chief is especially appalling.
The report spreads blame for the events that led to the confrontation across several members of the UC-Davis leadership but said Pike was primarily responsible for the "objectively unreasonable decision" to pepper-spray the demonstrators.
"On balance, the evidence does not provide an objective, factual basis for Lt. Pike's purported belief that he was trapped, that any of his officers were trapped, or that the safety of their arrestees was at issue," the report states. "Further, there is little evidence that any protesters attempted to use violence against the police."
But while criticizing Pike, the report also cites "systemic and repeated failures" among campus administrators it said "put officers in the unfortunate situation in which they found themselves."
The type of pepper-spray canister he carried was "not an authorized weapon" under campus police guidelines, and the officers "were not trained in how to use it correctly," according to the report.
Chancellor Linda Katehi told investigators that she envisioned "a limited operation in which police would demand that the tents be taken down but would use no other force," the report found.
However other top-level officials did not receive that message because the chancellor "did not effectively communicate this" during deliberations.
According to the report Chief Spicuzza initially tried to convince officers not to wear riot gear or use batons or pepper spray, but she was unsuccessful.
It also found "There is also evidence that she wanted her officers to withdraw if they encountered resistance," but as investigators weren't allowed to interview her they had no further details.
No one in the campus leadership took responsibility for ensuring they understood the way the police operation was to be handled, the report stated.
"The command and leadership structure of the (campus police) is very dysfunctional," the report adds. "Lieutenants refused to follow directives of the chief."
This conclusion stemmed in part from "heated exchanges" between Spicuzza and those in her charge had regarding how to proceed with the operation and her eventual "concession that her officers will do things their own way and there is nothing she can do about it."[Emphasis mine.] What was this, "mob rule" of the campus police? Spicuzza may as well have given the investigative team their interview and replied with a "Meh" to every question.
The report also takes on the claims by campus police that the video footage of the pepper-spraying incident shows that they were under threat and facing a "hostile crowd." It blasts those claims out of the water with video images of Pike and another officer who "were able to move through the crowd freely" and stepped over seated protesters three times "just minutes before Lt. Pike sprayed those same protesters."
The report contains recommendations to about how to improve communication and the police force, and how to better respect freedom of speech issues as well as various aspects of life on a university campus.
There were no recommendations regarding disciplinary actions.
The American Civil Liberties Union is assisting nearly a dozen students and alumni of the University of California, Davis with a lawsuit against Lt.John Pike as well as University employees, including Chancellor Linda Katehi and other campus administrators in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.
Lieutenant John Pike achieved Internet infamy after he was photographed and videotaped delivering a heavy dose of pepper-spray to more than a dozen seated demonstrators outside a UC Davis building last year. Protesters had gathered at the school to demonstrate against rising tuition hikes and campaigned under the umbrella of the then-infant Occupy movement. As protesters sat peacefully, Pike attempted to disrupt their demonstration by debilitating participants with bursts of pepper-spray to the face. Unfortunately for Pike, the incident went viral online which, in turn, only strengthened the Occupy movement as more Americans became outraged by the establishment’s not-so-nice interpretation of the First Amendment.
Pike is now named in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, which is also aimed at the school’s chancellor, provost and other administration officials and campus police. The ACLU, representing the victims, charge the defendants with failing to properly train and supervise officers, which they say resulted in a “series of constitutional violations against the demonstrators. “
In a press release that accompanies Wednesday’s suit, the ACLU attests that “the University’s response to seated student protesters amounts to unacceptable and excessive force that violates state and federal constitutional protections, including the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
By taking the matter to court, the ACLU hopes that institutions across America will think twice before allowing local law enforcement to follow in the footsteps of Pike.
David Buscho, a UC Davis mechanical engineering student who is among the plaintiffs, said he felt searing pain and had trouble breathing after being pepper-sprayed in the face.
"This was my first demonstration," Buscho said in a statement. "We had no idea there would be police in riot gear or that we would be pepper-sprayed because we were making our voices heard."
Barry Shiller, a spokesman for UC Davis officials declined to comment because they had not yet seen the lawsuit.
"Credit goes to "brwnjeanette" at Ustream and the Occupy UC Davis channel she broadcasted during the moving silent walk of shame/protest of Chancellor Katehi on Saturday, November 19, 2011. Had to cut this portion out from the full recording of the live-stream."
"She obtained this interview with one of the protesters, who deserves even more credit for taking a nonviolent, powerful stance against the police overreaction."
"The revealing first-hand account tells important details regarding the malicious, unnecessary order to use pepper spray by Lt. John Pike. This was a decision to use force by Pike himself, pre-authed by UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi as indicated by the chief herself during the press conference they held today."
"22-year-old UC Davis student W. (name withheld by request) was one of the students pepper-sprayed at point-blank range Friday by Lt. John Pike while seated on the ground, arms linked and silent."
"W. tells Boing Boing that Pike sprayed them at close range with military-grade pepper spray, in a punitive manner. Pike knew the students by name from Thursday night when they "occupied" a campus plaza. The students offered Pike food and coffee and chatted with him and other officers while setting up tents. On Friday, UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi told students they had to remove their #OWS tents for unspecified "health and safety" reasons."
"Move or we're going to shoot you," Pike is reported to have yelled at one student right before delivering pepper spray. Then, turning to his fellow officers and brandishing the can in the air, "Don't worry, I'm going to spray these kids down."
Also, another "must read" at Huffington Post from a teacher at UC Davis, who among other items of interest notes that in prison, pepper spray cannot be used on inmates. Yet it's "okay" to spray students?