Pepper Spray Cop wants worker's comp for 'psychiatric injury'

By Kristen Butler,  |  July 26, 2013 at 3:56 PM
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Former police lieutenant John Pike became Internet famous as the Pepper Spray Cop at an Occupy UC Davis protest, and now he's appealing for worker's compensation due to "psychiatric injury."

Pike gained worldwide attention from the video that showed him calmly walk past a group of students seated with their arms linked blocking a sidewalk on the Quad, and douse them with pepper spray at close range.

The "disturbing" video went viral immediately, his personal information was made available online and he was widely ridiculed. Documents in support of his claim show that Pike and his family received numerous threats, including death threats.

Pike remained on paid leave for eight months while the November 2011 incident was investigated, at an annual salary of $121,680. Although an internal affairs investigation deemed his actions "reasonable," Chief Matt Carmichael ultimately fired Pike.

The pepper spray Pike used, MK-9, also was not sanctioned for use by the department, and in any case is not meant to be sprayed at close range. Pike told internal affairs investigators that pepper spray was a tool "to gain compliance, so that I can get my troops out of there, my suspects out of there, and get a job done."

Separately, a task force headed by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso and an outside security firm found Pike's use of pepper spray at the Occupy encampment unwarranted.

"In an ideal democracy, violent suppressors of political speech are jailed and not rewarded," Bernie Goldsmith, a Davis attorney who has supported Occupy UC Davis. "This sends a message that acts of violent political repression can be both insulated from real criminal prosecution and rewarded."

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