John Pike, the officer who was seen casually pepper-spraying seated UC Davis protesters, was once given an award in 2006 for an incident in which he didn't use pepper spray because he didn't want to harm his fellow officers. That same thoughtfulness wasn't on display to students sitting on the ground last Friday, which makes this award-receiving news incident from 2006 bitterly ironic, as the Modesto Bee reported:
The patient was wielding a pair of surgical scissors at other officers when he rushed into the fray to stop the incident.
"I hit her hard," the release quoted Pike as saying. "For me, it was just a normal day at the office," he said. "She posed a threat, and I had to handle it. I didn't want her to hurt either of my partners."
..."He decided against using pepper spray, a baton or sidearm, not wanting to hit either of his partners as they struggled with the patient," the release stated. "You've got all these tools on your belt," Pike said, "but sometimes they're not the best tools."
The last "tools" quote, which could be read as a statement about being discerning, is especially striking considering the fallout from the UC Davis incident that has placed Pike on administrative leave and led the school's chancellor to publicly apologize for the incident. Unlike the officer's apparent reluctance to not accidentally hit his partners with pepper-spray in the 2006 incident, it's only clinical indifference that's shown in the YouTube video of him spraying the protesters.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.