San Francisco — A California university placed two of its police officers on administrative leave Sunday because of their involvement in the pepper spraying of passively sitting protesters, while the school’s chancellor accelerated a task force’s investigation into the incident amid calls for her resignation.
The president of the 10-campus University of California system also weighed in on the growing fallout from Friday’s incident at UC Davis, saying that he is “appalled” at images of students being doused with pepper spray and plans a far-reaching, urgent assessment of law enforcement procedures on all campuses.
“I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right,” UC President Mark G. Yudof said. All 10 chancellors would convene soon for a discussion “about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest,” he said.
Officials at UC Davis refused to identify the two officers who were place on administrative leave but one was a veteran of many years on the force and other “fairly new” to the department, the school’s Police Chief Annette Spicuzza told The Associated Press. She would not elaborate further because of the pending probe.
Videos posted online of the incident clearly show one riot-gear clad officer dousing the line of protesters with spray as they sit in a line with their arms intertwined. Spicuzza told the AP that the second officer was identified during an intense review of several videos.
“We really wanted to be diligent in our research, and during our viewing of multiple videos we discovered the second officer,” Spicuzza said. “This is the right thing to do.”
Both officers were trained in the use of pepper spray as department policy dictates, and both had been sprayed with it themselves during training, the chief noted.
Meanwhile, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said she has been inundated with reaction from alumni, students and faculty.
“I spoke with students this weekend and I feel their outrage,” Katehi said in a statement Sunday.
Katehi also set a 30-day deadline for her school’s task force investigating the incident to issue its report. The task force, comprised of students, staff and faculty, will be chosen this week. She earlier had set a 90-day timetable.
She also plans to meet with demonstrators today at their general assembly, said her spokeswoman, Claudia Morain.