UC Davis pepper spray cop files workers compensation claim

July 26, 2013 8:24:27 PM PDT
A former police officer who pepper sprayed students at a 2011 UC Davis protest is now seeking help from the state through a workers compensation claim. John Pike has a hearing on his claim next month.

Pike, the former UC Davis Police lieutenant who drew worldwide criticism for dousing peacefully sitting student demonstrators with pepper spray now wants workers' compensation for psychiatric injury. The former Marine sergeant received death threats after the video went viral. Pike was fired a year ago after an investigation found his action was unwarranted.

"It's wrong what he's trying to do," Ian Lee said.

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

"When you reward people like Pike by giving them benefits, you tell people it's OK to hurt students; that's the message we absolutely cannot send," he said.

Calls to Pike's attorney were not returned.

Melissa Brown specializes in workers' comp cases but is not connected with the Pike case. She 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.

The Department of Industrial Relations will look at the claim August 13. 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 workers compensation, the idea that his own actions of brutality would entitle him to a payout is absolutely unjust; it's crazy," protest organizer Bernie Goldsmith said.

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.


Load Comments