An official investigation suggests there was no legal basis for the raid on the students that day. Meanwhile, California public employee rules prevent the pepper-spray cop from being fired.
After Lieutenant John Pike discharged a thick cloud of pepper spray at a group of non-violent student protesters on the quad at UC Davis last November, he returned to campus police headquarters, where video of the incident was soon displayed on a nearby television screen. Said a suddenly concerned colleague, Dispatch Supervisor Leticia Garcia-Hernandez, as she watched the footage for the first time: "John, that looked really bad." She wasn't alone in thinking so. Almost immediately the video went viral, spread by digitally savvy Occupy Wall Street protesters and mainstream media organizations struck by the brutality of the scene. His identity quickly outed, Lt. Pike became a figure of infamy even as he took off as an Internet meme, his visage Photoshopped into iconic scenes where he'd invariably deploy his highly-pressurized pepper spray in the unnervingly casual, almost offhand way that he had against the undergraduates.
When would Lt. Pike be fired? That's what many campus activists, professors, and faraway pundits wanted to know. Some called for the university's chancellor and police chief to resign too. Administrators responded by promising a thorough, independent investigation, a pledge they kept. Last week, a task force chaired by Cruz Reynoso, a former associate justice of the California Supreme Court, released its report, along with a separate, independent fact-finding document assembled by Kroll, a consulting firm that specializes in investigations. Both reports set forth a scathing indictment of the university administrators who ordered campus police to remove protester tents from the quad; the hapless chief of campus police; and the officers who carried out her orders. The reports concluded with pointed recommendations for improving UC police protocol.