UC Davis Pepper-Spray Incident Was Preventable, Says New Report

In November, 2011, a group of passive students were pepper-sprayed on the UC Davis campus by Lt. John Pike. The incident sparked immediate outrage (and memes) across the internet. The University of California task force has now confirmed what everyone already knew. The UC Davis pepper-spray incident was unnecessary and avoidable.

The task force released a report today saying that the offer’s actions were “objectively unreasonable” and not authorized by campus policy.

The task force report reads:

“The pepper-spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011, should and could have been prevented.”

Pike and his fellow officers argued that the choice to use pepper spray was made because they felt like they were surrounded by a hostile crowd. One look at the video (you can watch it below) shows that this wasn’t the case.

The task force also said that the incident could be blamed on the lack of communication between Chancellor Linda Kateh, police Chief Annette Spicuzza, and Lt. John Pike. According to the report, Pike was using a pepper-spray canister that was larger than the one he was supposed to be trained with. The report also blamed Kateh for not instructing the officers to restrain from using force.

Fox News reports that the task force report would have been released sooner but the campus police officers’ union sued in order to keep the documents under wraps. Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo ruled last month that the report could be released, but said that the task force should remove all names except for officers Pike and Spicuzza.


The Associated Press reports that a separate report is currently being worked on by UC President Mark Yudof. Yudof’s report will include recommendations for how UC Davis should handle protests in the future.

“Free speech, including nonviolent protest, is part of the DNA of this university, and it must be protected with vigilance… I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful fashion, and I expect campus authorities to honor that right.”

Here’s the video of the Pepper Spray incident at UC Davis.