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UC Davis officer in pepper-spraying was honored for past feats

November 21, 2011 | 11:48 am

Lt. John Pike

A UC Davis police officer who reportedly pepper-sprayed student protesters Friday is a former U.S. Marine who has been honored for his campus police work.

Lt. John Pike, identified by the UC Davis student newspaper as the officer at the center of the pepper-spray incident, was credited by the university for subduing a UC Davis Medical Center patient in 2006 as she threatened a fellow officer with scissors and a spray bottle containing a caustic chemical, according to a UC Davis news release issued in June 2007.

Pike was in a hallway when he saw the patient try to assault one of two officers who were trying to prevent her from leaving the hospital against the advice of doctors and her mother, according to the release. He "went flying" to assist the officers and "landed a body block, powering his left shoulder into the patient" just as she was about to stab one of the officers, the release said.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests

Pike was 5-foot-10 and weighed 245 pounds. "I hit her hard," Pike said, according to the release, which said he weighed 245 pounds. He decided against using pepper spray, a baton or a sidearm because he did not want to injure his partners, the release said. One of officers credited Pike with helping to save his life.

"You've got all these tools on your belt," Pike said, "but sometimes they're not the best tools."

Pike received a meritorious service award from the university, his second such award for exceptional police work, the release said.

The patient later pleaded no contest to a single charge of assault on an officer.

"For me it was just a normal day at the office," the release quoted Pike as saying. "She posed a threat, and I had to handle it. I didn't want her to hurt either of my partners."

PHOTOS: Protests at UC Davis

Pike's first award stemmed from a 2003 chase in which Pike used his patrol car to bump the vehicle of a person who was about to enter a highway going in the wrong direction of traffic.

The release said Pike had worked in law enforcement for 12 years as of 2007 and had divided his time between the UC Davis police and the Sacramento Police Department.

On Monday, UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza was placed on administrative leave in the wake of the controversy over Friday's pepper-spraying. Two campus police officers earlier were put on leave.

The president of the University of California system has called for a review of police procedures on all campuses.


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Photo: In this image from a video that went viral on the Web, a UC Davis officer uses pepper spray Friday as he walks down a line of Occupy protesters. Credit: Thomas K. Fowler / Associated Press