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UC Davis Pepper Spray Cop Gets Bigger Settlement Than Protestors

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 24, 2013 3:55 PM

Remember Lt. John Pike? Back in 2011, when he was still employed by the University of California at Davis, he turned a bottle of non-sanctioned pepper spray on a group of peacefully-protesting students who were blocking the sidewalk in the middle of campus's large, grassy quad, and ordered a second officer to join the fun, reports the Davis Enterprise.

Now, he's going to cash a massive settlement check, and receive retirement benefits from the university due to the "trauma" he suffered after traumatizing a dozen or so students.

There are no words to express the ludicrousness of the situation, other than, "Go Aggies!"

Worker's Comp. for Stress, Death Threats

Though the Occupy squatter-protestor camps that sprung up across the world, including one on the Davis campus, were seen by many as a nuisance without a cause, the pepper-spraying of peacefully protesting students by their own campus's police force caused widespread outrage. Videos of the incident went viral, and the hacker group Anonymous targeted Pike directly, first with an ominous video, and later by posting his personal information (including home address) online.

Predictably, he was the recipient of hate mail, death threats, and lots of abuse. He was also put on paid administrative leave, and later terminated.

The trauma from the abuse, death threats, and upheaval of his life resulted in an agreed-upon expert classifying Pike as "moderate[ly]" disabled, as he faced "continuing and significant internal and external stress with respect to resolving and solving the significant emotional upheavals that have occurred," and he showed no signs of substantial improvement, according to a public records request by the Enterprise.

Settlement Trumps Payouts to Protestors

According to the Enterprise, Pike will be paid $38,056 in a workers' compensation settlement, plus retirement benefits for his 11 years of campus employment. He was receiving a salary of $121,680 at the time he was fired. (For those unfamiliar with Davis, "crime" in the town consists of drunk students and iPhone thefts. Seriously, at that salary, where do we sign up?)

Earlier this year, UC Davis agreed to pay $1 million to settle with the students. Twenty-one students received $30,000 each (less than Pike, and less than the cost of a single year at UCD), and fifteen more were each paid $6,666.

As a UC Davis alum, this settlement (and the incident itself) makes me a little less than proud of my alma mater. How about you, dear readers? Do you think UCD make the right move in settling the case? Tweet us your thoughts @FindLawLP.

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