John Pike, the former police officer who pepper-sprayed students during an Occupy protest at the University of California, Davis is applying for worker’s compensation, claiming he suffered psychiatric injury from the 2011 confrontation.
Pike has a settlement conference set for Aug. 13 in Sacramento, according to the state Department of Industrial Relations’ website. Organizers are already planning a demonstration outside the state building in the hopes of urging the WCAB to reject the former cop’s claim. “It’s so outrageous,” Protest Organizer Bernie Goldsmith said. “While he might be entitled to receive workers compensation, the idea that his own actions of brutality would entitle him to a payout is absolutely unjust. It’s crazy.”
Pike was fired in July 2012, eight months after a task force investigation found that his action was unwarranted. Online videos of him and another officer casually dousing demonstrators with pepper spray went viral, sparking outrage at UC Davis leaders. The images became a rallying symbol for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Hackers posted Pike’s information online. The former Marine sergeant received scores of threats that led an Alameda County Court judge to rule against releasing the names of other officers at the scene.
This week, a state appeals court ruled news organizations are entitled to know the names of a dozen University of California police officers who were interviewed about the use of pepper spray on demonstrators at UC Davis. The Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee are seeking the officers’ identities, which were redacted from two reports on the incident.
In the aftermath, the University of California agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by demonstrators and the chief of the UC Davis police department resigned. Ian Lee was one of the protesters pepper-sprayed. He and about 20 others shared in a million-dollar settlement. The college junior hopes Pike’s claim is denied. “It’s wrong what he’s trying to do,” Lee said. “When you reward people like Pike by giving them benefits, you tell people it’s okay to hurt students. That’s the message we absolutely cannot send.”