OAKLAND — An Alameda County judge Tuesday delayed a University of California report on November’s pepper-spraying of Occupy protesters at UC Davis after police officers said they were concerned about privacy.
Lawyers for the union representing UC police argued the report might contain confidential information about the officers involved and asked Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo to delay the release and order UC to remove private information. UC attorneys said the report contains no such information and that it should be released immediately.
“This is a very important issue to the University of California,” UC attorney Nancy Sheehan told Grillo. “There are many people waiting for this report.”
The matter will be decided at a March 16 hearing in the same Oakland courtroom. The report was written by a panel led by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso.
Police and their attorneys have not seen the report, said lawyer John Bakhit, who represents the officers, and will be allowed to read it before next week’s hearing. The attorneys just want to protect officers’ rights, he said.
“You can’t really unring a bell,” he said. “This information is protected by law.”
Online videos of the Nov. 18 incident have been viewed millions of times and appear to show UC Davis Officer John Pike calmly dousing seated protesters with a stream of pepper spray. The episode stoked worldwide anger and helped strengthen Occupy Wall Street protests around the U.S.
Pike and another UC Davis officer remain on administrative leave until the university’s police department completes its investigation, Bakhit said.
Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of students who were pepper-sprayed, also told Grillo they intended to fight for the document’s release.
“We think the public has a right to this information,” ACLU lawyer Michael Risher told reporters.
“If the law really prevents the university from releasing this report, then we need to change the law.”