UC Davis report lambasts Chancellor for Occupy chaos, lets her off scott free

April 13, 2012

Achy Obejas

Remember Lt. John Pike and his pepper spray? You know, the campus cop who pepper sprayed peaceful Occupy protests at the University of California Davis campus. Pike, who was suspended from his job as his pepper spraying became a meme sensation, is singled out in a new independent report released this week by the university on the events of November 18.

Pike, says the report, “bears primary responsibility” for the use of the chemical. It also claims Pike used the spray incorrectly, standing much closer to his target than is recommended.

Pike remains on leave, as does his supervisor, campus police chief Annette Spicuzza, but the person most significantly named in the report for her utter failure of leadership is Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who is apparently getting off scot-free.

The report -- which is damning to almost everyone involved -- shamelessly recommends no disciplinary action against any of the perpetrators.

Katehi herself is also pretty unblushing in her announcement of the report, failing to note her responsibility or issuing any kind of apology about its conclusions.

In fact, while report slams Katehi pretty hard, Cruz Reynoso, the former California Supreme Court Justice who oversaw the task force that produced it, has inexplicably come out in support of Katehi’s retention as chancellor.

"She should not resign. The balance is that she has done a lot of good despite this drastic poor judgement,” he told the Sacramento Bee.

Except that this “drastic poor judgement” undermines any possible moral authority for any future engagement with student dissent. It doesn’t matter what else she has done.

Moreover, by letting Katehi off, the university once more lays the full blame for a failure of leadership at the top on the fools on the bottom who executed the orders, Pike and Spicuzza.

Honestly, unless Katehi is sanctioned in some way, then give Pike and Spicuzza their jobs back.

Just to give you an idea how bad this was, look at the table of contents from the report itself:

Section I - Deficiencies in the Decision- Making
Process and Substantive Mistakes at the
Administrative Level ......................................................................... 10
A. There Was a Failure to Investigate Whether or Not
“Non- Affiliates” in the UC Davis Occupy
Encampment Were Present.................................................. 10
B. The Administration Decided to Deploy Police to
Remove the Tents on Nov. 18 before Considering
Other Reasonable Alternatives............................................ 11
C. The Scope of the Police Operation to Remove the
Tents Was Ineffectively Communicated, Not Clearly
Understood by Key Decision- Makers, and,
Accordingly, Could Not Be Adequately Evaluated as
to Its Costs and Consequences ........................................... 12
D. There Were No Clear Lines Delineating the
Responsibility for Decision- Making between
Civilian Administrators and Police...................................... 14
E. There Was Confusion as to the Legal Basis for the
Police Operation .................................................................. 14
F. The Leadership Team’s Informal, Consensus- Based
Decision- Making Process Was Ineffective for
Supporting a Major Extraordinary Event............................. 15
Section II - The Conduct of the Police Operation................... 17
A. The UCDPD Failed to Plan for the Intended Action
According to Standard Operating Procedures ....................
B. Notwithstanding the Deficiencies in the Operations
Plan, the Incident Was Not Managed According to
the Plan ................................................................................ 18
C. The Decision to Use Pepper Spray Was Not
Supported by Objective Evidence and Was Not
Authorized by Policy............................................................ 18
D. The Pepper Spray Used, the MK- 9, First Aerosol
Projector, Was Not an Authorized Weapon for Use
by the UCDPD ...................................................................... 19
E. There is a Breakdown of Leadership in the UCDPD............ 19
F. Other Police Procedural and Tactical Irregularities ............ 19
Section III - Individual Responsibility........................................ 21
A. The Chancellor Bears Primary Responsibility for
the Decision to Deploy the Police at 3 p.m. Rather
than During the Night or Early Morning, Which is a
Tactical Decision Properly Reserved for Police
Authorities ........................................................................... 21
B. The Chancellor Bears Primary Responsibility for
the Failure to Communicate Her Position that the
Police Operation Should Avoid Physical Force.................... 21
C. Many Members of the Leadership Team, Including
the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor Meyer, and Vice
Chancellor Wood, Share Responsibility for the
Decision to Remove the Tents on Friday and, as a
Result, the Subsequent Police Action Against
Protesters............................................................................. 22
Chief Spicuzza Bears Individual Responsibility for
Failing to Challenge the Leadership Team’s
Decision on the Time of the Police Operation and
for Not Clarifying the Role the Police Were
Expected to Play During the Operation. She is also
Responsible for Numerous Deviations from Best
Police Practices Both Before and During the
Operation as Detailed in the Kroll Report........................... 23
E. Bears Individual Responsibility for
Abdicating his Duties as Incident Commander................... 24
F. Lt. Pike Bears Primary Responsibility for the
Objectively Unreasonable Decision to Use Pepper
Spray on the Students Sitting in a Line and for the
Manner in Which the Pepper Spray Was Used..................... 24


For a look at the full report, click here.