Thursday, September 27, 2012
University of California Settles UC Davis "Pepper Spray" Lawsuit
Arising from the now infamous video (below) of a UC-Davis officer seeming to casually pepper spray students as they sat on campus during a protest, the University of California has wisely settled a lawsuit alleging constitutional violations filed by the ACLU. The UC Davis suit is one of a number of complaints challenging police practices during Occupy and Occupy-type actions last year.
As reported by the LA Times, the approved settlement includes:
$30,000 to each of the 21 students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed;
$250,000 attorneys' fees;
set aside of $100,000 to pay up to $20,000 to any other individuals who were pepper-sprayed;
written formal apology by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to each of the students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed or arrested.
The ACLU Northern California reports additional terms, including compensation to ACLU of $20,000 for work with the university to develop "new policies on student demonstrations, crowd management, and use of force to prevent anything like the November 18 pepper spray incident from ever happening again" and to "protect free speech and free expression on campus." Additionally, the University promised to "assist students whose academic performance was adversely affected by the incident in applying for academic records adjustment."
Of course, the video was an important aspect of the case and settlement, even as controversies about constitutional rights to record police officers continues (our latest post is here).
Additionally, the 190 page report of a Task Force appointed by the university was strongly condemnatory of the incident. The Task Force was chaired by ConLawProf Emeritus Cruz Reynoso (pictured above) and included ConLawProf Alan Brownstein, who was nominated by the Academic Senate, and Law Student William McKenna, who nominated by the Law Students Association), , service on such a Task Force was a time-consuming endeavor and one that too often goes under-appreciated, so kudos to Brownstein and McKenna.
The University's actions in creating a Task Force also merits recognition, although one wonders whether such a Task Force would have been created absent the video and the attention it generated.