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UC Davis chancellor: Police defied my orders by using pepper spray

November 23, 2011 |  7:00 am

: UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi speaks with students Tuesday at the spot where students were pepper-sprayed last week

UC Davis' embattled chancellor said campus police officers defied her orders when they used pepper spray on peaceful Occupy protesters last week.

Chancellor Linda Katehi's statement comes as outrage continued over the incident, which was caught on tape.

Meanwhile, former Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton will head a UC-sponsored investigation into the incident. Bratton is to lead an independent review and report his findings within a month, UC President Mark G. Yudof said.

PHOTOS: Protests at UC Davis

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Katehi said her office told the school's police department that officers needed to be peaceful when removing protesters.

"We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment," she told the paper. "We told them very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them, not to do it, if the students were aggressive, not to do it. And then we told them we also do not want to have another Berkeley."

In a telephone interview from New York, Bratton said he hoped to meet Yudof's request for "an outside, independent investigation and try to ascertain exactly what happened." He said his experiences in Los Angeles, where he was police chief for seven years until 2009, provided "no shortage of controversial incidents."

He held up as a model investigation the Los Angeles Police Department's inquiry into a 2007 May Day confrontation at MacArthur Park in which police officers were caught on videotape as they wielded batons and fired rubber bullets to disperse a mostly peaceful crowd, after a small group of protesters confronted police. Dozens of demonstrators and journalists were injured. A series of LAPD disciplinary steps resulted.

"I'm certainly not proud of the event, but I am proud of the report," Bratton said. "I am looking for a similar report that will give a truthful and objective, candid account of the events" at UC Davis, he added.

Bratton said he had seen video of the pepper-spraying, but he declined to comment on it.


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-- Larry Gordon and Shelby Grad

Photo: UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi speaks with students Tuesday at the spot where students were pepper-sprayed last week. Credit: Bryan Patrick / Sacramento Bee