DAVIS, Calif. — The University of California, Davis police officers who doused students and alumni with pepper spray during a campus protest last November won’t face criminal charges, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The chemical crackdown prompted widespread condemnation, campus protests and calls for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after videos shot by witnesses were widely played online. Images of an officer casually spraying orange pepper-spray in the faces of nonviolent protesters became a rallying point for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
But the Yolo County District Attorney’s office said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to prove the use of force was illegal.
A task force appointed by the university concluded in April that the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying was “objectively unreasonable” and could have been prevented.
In reaching their conclusion, prosecutors said they relied on facts included in the task force’s report. Among them was the finding that the officers perceived they were dealing with a hostile mob and needed to spray the protesters to clear a path to safety.
John Pike, the police lieutenant who was shown in the videos pepper-spraying the protesters, told The Sacramento Bee (http://bit.ly/PrqZ1V0) he was relieved by the DA’s decision.
Pike was fired on July 31 by the campus police chief who took over the university’s police department after the chief who was in charge last fall stepped down.
The University of California’s governing board last week reached a proposed settlement with 21 current and former students who sued after being hit with pepper spray. The terms of the settlement have not been publicly released because a federal judge still needs to approve the deal.