By now you’ve heard of the incident at the University of California Davis, where one campus officer let loose pepper spray on a group of seated, peaceful protestors. You’ve either heard of it, seen the video, seen the spoof photos of the officer, or you’ve been living under a rock. The incident is now under official investigation, with the former Chief of the LAPD leading the way.
William J. Bratton now works as a chairman for the Kroll security consulting firm out of New York, according to the Los Angeles Times. This firm was hired by the University to investigate the incident and they are expected to issue their findings in a month.
The pepper spray fiasco happened as campus police attempted to break up the student gathering associated with the Occupy movement. At Occupy Davis a group of students was seated, posing no risk to the officers. You can see in the video, it appears as if they are warned before the officer walks back and forth, casually spraying the line of students in the face.
The incident was followed by calls for Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign her position. She has refused to step down and has said those officers were only to use such force as a last result. Two officers and the chief of the campus police have been placed on paid administrative leave as a result.
Another investigation, into all police policies regarding student protests throughout every UC campus is being conducted by UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley Jr. It’s obvious the University wants to squash any possibility that people will be able to say they didn’t do everything possible to prevent this from happening again.
The students who were pepper sprayed are having their medical bills covered by the University and charges against 10 people arrested at the scene have since been dropped. These charges were likely for misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges.
When interviewed about the case, Bratton was reluctant to rush to judgment. He said he hoped to rise to the request for “an outside, independent, investigation and try to ascertain exactly what happened.” He pointed to several incidents when serving as LAPD Chief that required him to handle similar controversial events.
The Occupy movements across the country have provided us with a glimpse into what really happens when mass protests arise in this country where the right to do so is guaranteed. And what we’ve found is that our Constitutional rights aren’t always easily exercised.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and believe you were acting within your rights, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to assist you. Contact our offices today for a consultation on your case.