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Occupy 'pepper-spray cop' awarded $38k settlement

Published time: October 23, 2013 21:23
Edited time: October 25, 2013 05:53

UC Davis Police Lieutenant John Pike uses pepper spray against peaceful Occupy UC Davis protesters (Photo by Wayne Tilcock)

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Assaulting peaceful protesters with pepper spray can be awfully stressful, and John Pike certainly knows it better than most. Now a judge has awarded $38,000 to the former University of California cop filmed discharging his weapon on Occupy demonstrators.

Administrative Law Judge Harter has approved a workers’ compensation settlement totaling $38,059 between UC Davis and Pike, a former Marine-turned-campus law enforcement lieutenant, according to Yolo County’s Davis Enterprise newspaper.

Pike was infamously caught assaulting a group of protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement during a standoff with police in November 2011. Video footage of the incident went viral and Pike quickly became the main subject of meme-worthy ridicule around not just the small Sacramento, California-area community, but the Internet at large.


Pike was placed on eight months of paid administrative leave after the incident until UC Davis spokesman Barry Shiller confirmed to the Sacramento Bee last August that he had left the force.

According to the Enterprise, Pike was making $121,680 annually when he was fired from the department.

RT reported earlier this year that Davis was pursuing a workers’ compensation settlement in the aftermath due to psychiatric problems that he allegedly began suffering from after his behavior made him an Internet superstar—namely depression and anxiety.

Pike said death threats directed at him and his family began surfacing immediately after the footage began circulating widely in 2011. The video made it to news outlets around the globe, and activists aligned with the underground Anonymous movement warned him, “Expect our full wrath."

The Enterprise reports that Richard Lieberman, a Piedmont psychiatrist acting as the agreed-upon expert in Pike’s workers’ compensation case, rated his disability as “moderate,” according to a Jan. 5 psychiatric report released by the State Department of Industrial Relations.

Pike faced “continuing and significant internal and external stress with respect to resolving and solving the significant emotional upheavals that have occurred” in his life, concluded Lieberman, who determined that the office had not shown evidence of substantial improvement more than a year after the incident began to unfold.

This case has been resolved in accordance with state law and processes on workers’ compensation,” UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said in an email to the paper.

Understandably, however, not all are happy with the arrangement. Local attorney Bernie Goldsmith told the Enterprise that the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”

Last September, UC Davis agreed to spend roughly $1 million to compensate current and former students who became victims in the Nov. 2011 incident, dishing out $30,000 settlements apiece to 21 plaintiffs, and another $6,666 to 15 others that stepped up later. The deal reached between UC Davis and Pike’s attorneys will award him a larger settlement than any of those targeted in the attack.