UC Davis: Police on leave after pepper spray incident

12:41 PM, Nov 21, 2011   |    comments
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DAVIS, CA. - UC Davis Police Chief, Annette Spicuzza, answered some questions about the incident involving the two police officers, who are on paid administrative leave for using pepper spray on protesters on campus Friday.

"It took 24 hours for us to review things and contact these officers. We felt it was the right thing to do," said Chief Spicuzza.

The two officers were placed on administrative leave Sunday. An investigation is underway into Friday's events. Due to the investigation, Spicuzza was not able to give her opinion or detailed information regarding Friday's incident. But she did say that neither her nor Chancellor Katehi had ordered the police to use pepper spray and that it was a judgement call by the officer in charge at the scene.

The Chief would not say if the officers who used the pepper spray did the right thing.

"It's a very fluid dynamic situation. They are split-second decisions. They are decisions often you just can't review," said Spicuzza.

According to Claudia Morain, a UC Davis spokesperson, Katehi has also accelerated the timetable for a task force to investigate the incident. She has set a 30 day deadline for the task force to issue the report. The task force will be chosen this week and will include representatives from the faculty, students and staff.

The chancellor also plans to hold meetings and forums with the students, staff and faculty to listen to their concerns and ideas for restoring civil discourse on campus.

"I spoke with students this weekend, and I feel their outrage," said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi. "I have also heard from an overwhelming number of students, faculty, staff and alumni from around the country. I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident. However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again. I feel very sorry for the harm our students were subjected to and I vow to work tirelessly to make the campus a more welcoming and safe place."

Video footage of Friday's arrest show peaceful seated students getting pepper sprayed by the two officers.

Friday's events included ten protesters getting arrested for overnight encampment of 25 tents on the campus Quad and then were cited and released on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. Eleven were treated on site for the effects of pepper spray, two of those eleven were treated and released from a nearby hospital.

"These past few days our campus has been confronted with serious questions which will challenge us for many months and years to come," Katehi said. "We have created great universities which are challenged in their capacity to accommodate our human needs of expression, anger, frustration and even civil disobedience together with the need to feel safe. We need to find a way to change that while at the same time remaining true to our mission of teaching, research and service. We need to think hard and together on how to accomplish this."


Source: Claudia Morain, UC Davis spokesperson

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