Pepper-spraying UC Davis officer previously honored

Pepper-spraying UC Davis officer previously honored

The riot-clad police officer who pepper sprayed a row of peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters at a California university last week is a retired U.S. Marine sergeant who has been honored for his police work on campus, but also has figured in a previous discrimination suit against the university.

Lt. John Pike was hired onto the University of California, Davis police force in 2001. Now, as one of four lieutenants, he supervises more than one-third of the sworn officers on the suburban campus near Sacramento, including the investigations unit.

Pike has been honored twice for meritorious service, including a 2006 incident in which he decided against using pepper spray on a campus hospital patient who was threatening his colleagues with scissors.

But an alleged anti-gay slur by Pike also figured in a racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit a former police officer filed against the department, which ended in a $240,000 settlement in 2008.

Footage of Pike and another officer in riot gear dousing the demonstrators has sparked national outrage since it began circulating Friday night. Both officers and the police chief were placed on administrative leave over the weekend, and campus officials have promised a wide-ranging investigation into the incident.

Images of the lieutenant also have become the subject of a popular blog, which features his image superimposed on famous paintings and spraying famous figures, from Gandhi to John F. Kennedy. The handcraft site Etsy.com also is selling a t-shirt emblazoned with Pike's image, but showing flowers coming out of his spray can.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi identified Pike as one of the officers involved in the pepper-spray incident in an interview with the campus television station on Sunday, and university communications staff confirmed his role Tuesday morning.

Shortly after the incident, the hacker group Anonymous, which is affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, posted on its website Pike's phone number and other personal details.

Pike did not immediately return a message left Tuesday at a home addressed listed in Roseville, a Sacramento suburb.

Tuesday, student government leaders on campus condemned the use of pepper spray on student protesters and called for Katehi to resign if she fails to enact reforms.

“Major reforms are needed because regardless of whoever is fired or resigns, it won't mean anything if we don't change policy and the way our institutions are run,” Adam Thongsavat, president of the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis said in an interview. “That's what's going to affect students and campus policy and bring awareness.”

The students passed a resolution Monday night calling on the state Attorney General's Office to investigate campus police misconduct. The students are demanding police go through sensitivity training, seek more student representation and review policies on student protests.

Katehi has already asked the Yolo County District Attorney's Office to investigate and Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven confirmed Tuesday that the department will look into the matter.

Attorney General Kamala Harris was deeply disturbed by the videos of the incident, spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said Tuesday.

“She's confident they will conduct a quick and thorough investigation of the matter,” Gledhill said.

On Tuesday, about 50 tents formed an encampment on the site where the pepper-spraying happened as students went about going to class. Katehi showed up unexpectedly and asked to address students and occupiers during their general assembly meeting. She left after waiting about 30 minutes for her chance to speak.

The chancellor is expected to make opening remarks Tuesday evening at a town hall meeting for students.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Kindergarten teacher Chris Johnson in his classroom at Bryant Elementary School ahead of the school’s reopening on Friday, April 9, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD students are going back to the classroom

After more than a year of distance learning, city schools begin reopening on Monday

Keith Zwölfer, director of education for SFFILM, stays busy connecting filmmakers and studios with public, private and home schools<ins>.</ins><ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner) </ins>
Streamlined SF film festival focuses on family features

In the early days of the San Francisco International Film Festival, the… Continue reading

“Gay Passover,” a fun Haggadah, includes some cocktail recipes. <ins>(Courtesy Saul Sugarman)</ins>
A Passover journey toward something different

It was nice to see my family, and I look forward to reconnecting with friends

Oakland A’s left fielder Tony Kemp fielded a fly but missed the catch in the April 5 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Oakland Coliseum. <ins>(Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Bay Area sports for week of April 11, 2021

A look at the upcoming major Bay Area sports events (schedules subject… Continue reading

The involving historical novel “The Bohemians” imagines photographer Dorothea Lange’s life in San Francisco. (Courtesy photo)
‘Bohemians’ explores life of legendary photographer Dorothea Lange

Artist’s talent, compassion revealed in Jasmin Darznik’s historical novel

Most Read