Students and alumni pepper sprayed at close range by University of California, Davis campus police will receive a settlement, the UC Regents decided Thursday.
The board held a closed-door meeting Thursday in which they agreed to the settlement. Neither they nor the victims' attorneys are speaking of details until the deal is approved by a court. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California in February, claiming UC Davis officials and police violated rights of freedom of speech and assembly and violated their Fourth Amendment rights against "unreasonable search or seizure."
Plaintiffs claim they were targeted by police "for forcible arrests based on their past political activism and associations at the university," the complaint read.
"We did an injustice to our students that day at Davis, and some amount of recompense is appropriate," Jonathan Stein, a UC student regent, said. "More importantly, it's time for us as an institution to publicly acknowledge that's not the way we should treat our students. We were wrong, and we are moving forward."
Students were demonstrating against tuition hikes and budget on the campus of UC Davis on Nov. 18. As a group of unarmed students were seated, Lt. John Pike was seen and photographed using military-grade pepper spray on the peaceful protesters. Pike said in his police report "the crowd and mob mentality of the moment became even more belligerent and worrisome," and claimed the protesters were passing out rocks.
Pike was then put on paid administrative leave until the summer, when it was announced he is no longer working at the UC police department. Police chief Matthew Carmichael fired Pike on July 31, concluding Pike "showed poor judgment" by using the pepper spray as he did.
Video of the footage went viral and attracted nationwide attention and outrage. The UC campus police have a long history of being cited for using excessively aggressive tactics when dealing with student protesters.
Multiple investigations were launched in the aftermath of the Nov. 18 incident. In April, one of the independent reports lead by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso condemned the UC Police Department for its actions.
The Sacramento Bee reports the incident has already cost the university well over $1 million in legal, investigative and other fees.