The Pepper-Spraying Cop Just Got a Larger Settlement Than the Students He Pepper-Sprayed

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 24 2013 12:26 PM

The Pepper-Spraying Cop Is Getting a Larger Settlement Than the Students He Pepper-Sprayed

Remember former UC-Davis police officer John Pike? That's him in the video above casually pepper-spraying a group of students peacefully protesting a tuition hike back in 2011. The shocking video quickly went viral, becoming the latest in a string of rallying cries for the then-in-full-force Occupy movement and, eventually, costing Pike his job. Last week, he was awarded $38,056 from the university in a worker's comp settlement. Here's the Davis Enterprise with the details:

[Pike] reportedly suffered depression and anxiety brought on by death threats he and his family received after the Nov. 18, 2011, confrontation at an Occupy UC Davis encampment. Administrative Law Judge Harter approved the settlement agreement between Pike and the University of California on Oct. 16. ...
The state’s Disability Evaluation Unit determines permanent disability ratings based on doctors’ reports. Richard Lieberman, a Piedmont psychiatrist acting as the agreed-upon expert, rated Pike’s disability as “moderate,” according to a Jan. 5 psychiatric report released by the state Department of Industrial Relations in response to a public records request.
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 and had not shown evidence of substantial improvement, concluded Lieberman, who spoke with Pike twice in 2012.

To put that in perspective, the $38,000 payout is roughly $8,000 more than each of the 21 students who took the full force Pike's pepper-spraying were awarded last year as part of a $1-million settlement with the university (the rest of the money was divvied up among a few other plaintiffs, along with their lawyers).

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.