Update: A new video shows protesters identifying the police officer who pepper sprayed students as Lt. John Pike at the 3:14 minute mark.
Lt. John Pike of UC Davis pepper sprayed peaceful student protesters who were sitting on the ground on Friday.
The students defied the orders of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katechi and the police to pack up their tents and leave their protest grounds. At the time of the pepper spray incident, however, the students did not seem to be physically threatening the police officers (video below).
They were sitting on the ground with linked arms and their heads bowed. Then, Lt. John Pike (first identified by the Davis Enterprise) stepped over them, strolled in front of them, and started to douse them with pepper spray.
The Davis Enterprise reported that the eyes of 11 protesters had to be treated with saline and two had to be hospitalized. UC Davis Assistant Professor Nathan Brown said one student was hit with so much pepper spray that he was still coughing up blood 45 minutes after the incident.
Lt. John Pike did not issue any comments or statements on the issue. After his contact information (i.e., address, phone and e-mail) were located and posted online, his phone was flooded with calls. When IBTimes tried to reach him this morning, he did not pick up his phone, and his voice mailbox was full.
His boss, UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, who observed the events, did speak out.
She said she was “very proud” of the way her officers behaved in general, according to the Davis Enterprise.
“This was a tough scene to walk into. This was 50 people and before you knew it, it probably grew close to 200. When you encircle a group of officers that are just trying to do their jobs, it’s kinda scary,” she said.
UC Davis Chancellor Katechi, who ordered the use of police force, also defended her and the police’s actions.
“A number of protesters refused our warning [to remove their tents], offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal,” Katechi said on Friday.
As public backlash swelled on Friday, she issued a second statement declaring she is forming a task force to review the pepper spray incident.