Judge blocks UC from releasing pepper-spray report
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A judge on Tuesday temporarily barred the University of California from releasing a highly anticipated report on the pepper-spraying of student protesters by police officers at UC Davis.
During a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Evelio Grillo issued a temporary restraining order requested by the union representing officers involved in the Nov. 18 crackdown on Occupy activists.
The judge ordered the university to allow the union's attorney to preview the report and scheduled another court hearing on March 16, when attorneys for each side will argue the merits of the case. Grillo will then decide whether the report can be released and in what form.
A task force investigating the pepper-spray incident was scheduled to release its findings and recommendations online and discuss the report at a public meeting Tuesday.
But its chairman, former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, delayed the report's publication after learning the union planned to seek a restraining order to block its disclosure.
John Bakhit, an attorney for the Federated University Police Officers Association, said the union wants the university to remove from the report the names of officers and confidential personnel information that should not be made public under state law.
"We're not saying that we don't want the entire report to be released. We just want them to abide by the law," Bakhit said after the hearing.
University attorneys said they believe the state law protecting officers' names and personnel information does not apply in this case. They want the report to be released in its entirety as soon as possible.
"We need to begin healing our community, and I think part of the healing process is being able to release this kind of review so that we can move forward," said Charles Robinson, the university's general counsel.
The 12-member task force was created to investigate the incident, when campus police officers doused pepper spray on sitting protesters who had set up an Occupy encampment on UC Davis quad.
The encounter, which was captured on video and viewed millions of times online, prompted national outrage, a federal civil rights lawsuit and calls for Chancellor Linda Katehi's resignation.