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UC Davis pepper-spray cop wants worker's comp

A police officer is seen pepper-spraying Occupy demonstrators at UC Davis in November 2011.
July 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The former police officer who drew nationwide criticism in 2011 for dousing student demonstrators with pepper spray at University of California, Davis now wants worker's compensation for psychiatric injury.

John Pike is arguing that he claimed psychiatric injury from the 2011 confrontation that went viral online. Hackers posted Pike's information online, and he received scores of threats that led an Alameda County Court judge to rule against releasing the names of other officers at the scene.

He was fired in July 2012, eight months after a task-force investigation found that his action was unwarranted.

Ian Lee was one of the pepper-sprayed protesters. He and about 20 others shared in a $1 million settlement from the university last year. The college junior is hoping Pike's claim is denied.

"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," Lee said.

Calls to Pike's attorney were not returned.

Melissa Brown, who specializes in worker's comp cases, says Pike and his lawyer must have thought this case through carefully because more public scrutiny lies ahead.

Filing a psychiatric claim is not easy. The injured worker basically gives up their rights to privacy. Your whole life is an open book," Brown said.

A settlement conference has been scheduled for Aug. 13 in Sacramento, according to the state Department of Industrial Relations' website. If no settlement is reached, Pike's case would go forward to trial or moved on for further hearing.

Organizers are already planning a demonstration outside the state building in the hopes of swaying the panel to reject the former cop's claim.

"It's so outrageous. While he might be entitled to receive worker's compensation, the idea that his own actions of brutality would entitle him to a payout is absolutely unjust. It's crazy," said Bernie Goldsmith, a protest organizer.

Pike made nearly $122,000 a year. Brown says because of recent cutbacks the Legislature made, a 50 percent permanent disability, for instance, would entitle Pike to $62,000 in lifetime cash benefits -- but medical treatment for life.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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