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Judge temporarily blocks report on UC Davis pepper spray incident

March 6, 2012 |  1:40 pm

An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the release of a University of California investigatory report about the controversial pepper spraying of UC Davis student protesters by campus police in November.

The matter is scheduled to return to court on March 16 for a hearing on whether the temporary restraining order should be dropped or a permanent injunction granted.

Tuesday’s ruling came at the request of the UC police union, which wants to make sure that the report does not reveal information it believes should remain confidential, including the names of UC Davis campus police officers and personnel information garnered from interviews with them.

Union attorney John Bakhit said that he was not seeking to block the entire report, which was written by a task force headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso with help from a security consulting firm headed by former Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton. But Bakhit said he wanted UC to follow state law that restricts the public release of some police personnel information, similar to restrictions on releasing a patient’s hospital records.

He described Judge Evelio Grillo’s ruling as “the right thing in the interest of caution.”

The report originally was scheduled to be released Tuesday online and at an afternoon public forum at UC Davis. However, administrators canceled those plans Monday after learning of the police union's request for the restraining order.

Reynoso said in a statement Monday that he would keep pushing for the report’s quick release in its original form and that he was disappointed by the police union's legal action.

Dianne Klein, a UC spokeswoman, described the ruling as putting the university “in a holding pattern.” Last month, UC Davis students and alumni who were pepper sprayed or allegedly roughed up by campus police in the Nov. 18 incident filed a federal lawsuit against campus administrators and police, claiming their civil rights were violated. A video showing an officer spraying the seated demonstrators at close range triggered national outrage and debate about police tactics against Occupy movement protests.

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-- Larry Gordon

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