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UC Davis pepper-spraying report delayed by police union action

March 5, 2012 |  6:09 pm

Expected legal action by a police union has postponed the Tuesday release of a much-anticipated investigative report about the use of pepper spray on student demonstrators by UC Davis campus police, officials announced Monday.

The police union said it would file a request Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court for a temporary restraining order against the release of the report because, its attorneys contend, it violates state law by identifying officers by name and uses personnel material that should remain confidential.

If the request for the restraining order is denied, the report will be rescheduled for release sometime in the near future, UC officials said.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, chairman of the UC task force that investigated the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying and related police tactics, said he would keep pushing for the report’s quick release in its original form. “I was very frustrated to receive this news today,” Reynoso wrote in a letter released Monday. “However, let me assure you that I am undeterred in my commitment to release the complete and unredacted work of the Task Force.”

Also delayed from public disclosure are documents from the Kroll security consulting firm headed by former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton that studied the UC Davis situation and police reaction to the Occupy protesters.

John Bakhit, an Upland-based attorney for the Federated University Police Officers Assn., said state law requires that the names of officers involved in the incident be removed from the documents along with any information gleaned directly from interviews with them by investigators. Bakhit, who said he has not seen the report, said the union would not seek to block any report conclusions based on other evidence. “They can give their 2 cents all they want but not in the manner in which they did it,” he said.

UC system President Mark G. Yudof said he too was disappointed with the delay and told UC attorneys to fight in court against what he described as “this attempt to stifle these reports.”

Officers involved in the controversial pepper-spraying incident have been put on administrative leave, and their defenders have contended that the much-viewed video of the spraying on seated demonstrators has been taken out of context.

The UC Davis campus had scheduled a large gathering for Reynoso and other task force members to discuss the report. Last month, 19 students and alumni who contend they were pepper-sprayed or roughed up by UC Davis campus police filed a federal lawsuit claiming that their free speech and assembly rights were violated. Among the defendants are UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and several campus police officers.

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-- Larry Gordon

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