You may recall John Pike, a 40-year-old former officer with University of California-Davis, who became infamous due to the videotape below in which he calmly sprayed kneeling students with pepper spray during a Nov. 2011 protest. He was fired for his conduct by the university. However, he has now been awarded $38,059 in workers’ compensation for depression and anxiety in dealing with the controversy.
Pike was placed on paid administrative leave after the incident and was fired eight months later in July 2012.
The record of the case is highly conflicted. On one hand, Pike was fired and yet an investigation concluded that he acted appropriately in spraying the non-violent students. Likewise, on one hand, UC-Davis paid out $1 million to settle a lawsuit by the demonstrators who were pepper-sprayed by Pike, but the university has now reached a settlement with him for the stress caused by the incident. If Pike committed an act justifying his termination and wronged students (justifying their awards), why is the resulting trauma recoverable as a worker’s compensation matter?
The reason appears to be the finding of the internal panel of the university supporting Pike’s actions. In a 76-page report, the panel using an outside law firm concluded that “For reasons detailed in this report, we conclude that Lieutenant Pike’s use of pepper spray was reasonable under the circumstances. The visual of Lieutenant Pike spraying the seated protesters is indeed disturbing. However, it also fails to tell other important parts of the story. It found that Pike warned the students repeatedly and that “the police officers were fully encircled by protesters who had locked arms and would not let the officers exit”. I am not sure how serious the “encirclement” was for the officers who appear perfectly capable of moving around (or through) the crowd or stepping over the sitting students.
The University police chief rejected the findings of the internal panel in terminating Pike.
Here is the video:
Source: LA Times