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Officer who pepper-sprayed UC Davis students leaves job

July 31, 2012 | 11:37 pm

UC Davis pepper spray
The UC Davis police officer who pepper-sprayed students during a campus protest last fall no longer works for the university, the Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday.

The employment of Lt. John Pike, who was captured on cellphone video in the act of spraying peaceful demonstrators, “ended on July 31, 2012,” UC Davis spokesman Barry Shiller said.

Shiller would not comment on the circumstances of Pike’s departure, citing privacy restrictions governing the release of such information. Pike declined to comment to the newspaper, saying he wanted to consult an attorney before speaking. Pike had been on paid administrative leave.

His actions Nov. 18 sparked widespread outrage with the dissemination of a video showing him repeatedly spraying the chemical irritant into the faces of seated students. Pike and other campus police officers contended that the spray was the "most appropriate" tool on hand to deal with what they described as an unruly mob that encircled the officers and refused to disperse.

The handling of the student demonstration already led to the retirement of former UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and to criticism of the university's president.

A task-force investigation concluded that Pike lacked proper cause to spray the students and broke police rules by using a large and high-pressure canister that is not supposed to be deployed any closer than six feet from the intended targets.


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Photo: UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray on Occupy UC Davis protesters on Nov. 18. Credit: Wayne Tilcock / The Davis Enterprise