Judge Blocks UC From Releasing Pepper-Spray Report

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The University of California's investigative report into the controversial pepper-spraying of UC Davis student protesters by campus police in November was due to be released Tuesday online, and to a public forum at UC Davis until it was blocked by a judge at the request of the attorney for the UC police union.


Judge Evelio Grillo's ruling in an Oakland courtroom came at the request of the UC police union. The Federated University Police Officers Assn. contends that state law forbids public disclosure of such information as the names of UC Davis campus police officers involved in the spraying incident and personnel information garnered from interviews with them.

The matter is scheduled to return to court on March 16 for a hearing on whether the temporary restraining order should be dropped or a permanent injunction granted.

Police union attorney John Bakhit said he was not seeking to squelch the entire report about the police tactics, which was written by a task force chaired by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso with help from a security consulting firm headed by former Los Angeles police Chief William J. Bratton. But Bakhit said he wanted UC to cut out the portions containing what he said appeared to be confidential personnel information that he likened to a patient's hospital records. Even though the names of two of the officers are widely known and have appeared in media reports, other information about them has not been disclosed and other officers have not been identified, he added.

He described Tuesday's ruling as "the right thing in the interest of caution." The judge also ordered UC to turn over a copy of the report to Bakhit, who had not seen it previously, and warned him not to reveal its contents and not to show it to any of the officers involved in the case.

UC Davis students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed or claimed rough treatment during the Nov.18, 2011 campus police action filed a federal lawsuit against campus administrators and police, claiming that their civil rights were violated.

The video above showing campus police officer Lt. John Pike pepper-spraying the seated demonstrators at close range triggered national outrage and debate about the violent police tactics being used against the Occupy movement.

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