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California Excessive Use of Force?: Angry Protestors Cry Foul Over Police's Use of Pepper Spray in UC Davis Occupy Wall Street Demonstration

December 31, 1969

Hundreds protestors have converged onto the UC Davis Campus this week to speak out about campus police's use of pepper spray to break up a group of students that were peacefully protesting the Occupy Wall Street movement on Friday. 11 students had to be treated for pepper spray side effects.

Following the incident, UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and two campus cops were placed on leave, while UC officials continue to investigate what happened. UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has said that although she asked police to take away the tents that were on the campus quad, she never told them to use force to make the demonstrators leave. Katehi maintains that she told the police chief to avoid violence "at all costs" and to not make any arrests.

Meantime, an attorney for the Federated University Police Officers Association claims that the police officers were only following instructions. The Washington Post quoted Dieter Dammeier as saying that upper management had told the cops what to do.

Excessive Use of Force

Police officers are not supposed to use excessive force when doing their job. Use of pepper spray, batons, Tasers, physical force, or guns must be warranted and necessary otherwise, this could be a violation of the victim's civil rights. The United States Code says that this type of misconduct by someone working for state law enforcement can be grounds for a California personal injury lawsuit.

Use of Pepper Spray
Getting struck with pepper spray can be very painful, causing an intense burning sensation that may last for a couple of days. Made from a substance from the cayenne pepper, pepper spray can irritate the skin, eyes, lungs, sinuses, and other mucus membranes.

Using force can cause serious injury and even death, which is why police officers must receive proper training on when force should be employed and what other, less dangerous courses of action are available to them. Many people don't realize that they have rights when it comes to how police are allowed to treat them, so often incidents of excessive use of force or California police brutality go unreported. Even if you were arrested or jailed for a crime, you still are entitled to certain legal and civil protections.

Our Anaheim personal injury lawyers want you to know that if a police officer used more force than necessary when detaining, arresting, or questioning you, this may be sufficient reason for filing an Orange County, California personal injury lawsuit to obtain damages for the harm that you suffered. Howard Law, PC represents clients in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Orange County, California.

Hundreds of UC Davis students protest pepper-spraying by police, Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2011

What to do if you get pepper sprayed, ABC News, November 21, 2011

UC Davis chancellor 'horrified' by pepper spray, Washington Post/AP, November 21, 2011

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