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UC Davis Pepper Spray Officer Says He Was Fired

August 01, 2012  | 

Photo: POLICE file
Photo: POLICE file

Lt. John Pike, a central figure in last November's pepper-spraying incident at UC Davis, is no longer employed by the university as of Tuesday.

Pike has been on paid leave since the incident occurred, the Sacramento Bee reports. His leave coincides with an internal affairs investigation into his and other officers' actions during the pepper-spraying of students.

UC Davis officials declined further comment; however, Lt. Pike told the Sacramento Bee he was terminated.


UC Davis Pepper-Spraying Incident: After-Action Report

Comments (32)

Displaying 1 - 32 of 32

Fed Cop @ 8/1/2012 2:59 PM

Gee, I'm shocked, a police officer fired for OC'ing non-compliant Occupiers at UC Berkeley. It forced those occupiers to take a shower and use soap. I can understand that.

Tom @ 8/2/2012 3:22 AM

Another officer unjustly losing his job. I really don't understand what he was supposed to do other than what he did in this situation. We have gotten to the point where police are just meat on a hook dangling in front of criminals to see what they're going to do.

Serena @ 8/2/2012 9:11 AM

He's not getting fired because of criminals...... he's the decoy for a higher authority who ordered the pepper spray...... Police informed the students "If you do not leave, we will begin arresting you". Then they get sprayed in their faces? EXCESSIVELY..... not to mention the cop looked like he was having fun! The last time I checked we live in America and we do have the freedom to protest.....protesting make right to wrongs.....IF YOU DON'T STAND FOR SOMETHING YOU ARE NOTHING.... It's apparent that people have the blessing of not having to pay for education.... AND NO I AM NOT A PROTESTER, BUT IT IS A AMERICAN RIGHT.... btw....have anyone noticed that police are committing a grip load of crimes lately... they have been killing innocent people, babies, mentally ill, etc.... WTF? PSHHHH wake up!

Tom Ret @ 8/2/2012 6:23 PM

UC Davis does not deserve to have a police force. I wish the officer luck as he did nothing wrong.

Ron Bartlett @ 8/2/2012 6:28 PM

Serena u r so right we as cops r going out of our way to kill the innocent to include babies and the mentally ill how did u ever find us out?

Now back to reality this Lt. using O/C on the kids sitting is a bit excessive but I wasn't there so I have no clue what went on prior to deploying the O/C so I can't say if it was justified r not but to lose ones job is also a bit excessive. Why is it we in Law Enforcement r always wrong even when we r right. I will say if this keeps up y'all will find out just how bad it can get without cops around to protect u from the bad guys because no one will want to go into Law Enforcement due to the fact we are always getting canned when we have to use force to get the job done.

JJ @ 8/2/2012 8:46 PM

Serena is not informed. There was much done to get these young punks (students?) to unblock the driveway so the patrol car trying to leave with a lawfully arrested punk . They joined arms and sat down blocking the police. Perhaps it would have been better had the patarol unit ran over them. Is that your answer? Pepper spray is the most humane way of disbursing them without having water cannons as used in Europe. I would have prfereed to have washed them down the drive way Yes, you live in America, but it won't be for long if people do not wake up to the need for law and order. They fired the wrong should have been the Chanselor.

[email protected] @ 8/2/2012 10:50 PM

Serena sweetie, did you just wake up from your nappie? Maybe you can find a grownup to show you the films of the Officers stating" Disperse or you will be pepper sprayed". Wow, and then when the unwashed did not disperse, they got sprayed!! Please crawl back into your safe little box. And the next time some goon decides to use you as his own little toy, call a student. Blues, stay safe.

Ray Hoy @ 8/3/2012 4:39 AM

I once had to pepper spray a dog trying to prevent me from executing an arrest warrant on his owner. I still feel worse about that than I do about Lt. Pike's actions. We do what we have to.

hank hill @ 8/3/2012 8:02 AM

dude is a nut! end of story!

John @ 8/3/2012 8:53 AM

I believe in freedom of speech, including the right to protest. But, that does not give protestors the right to block walkways, driveways &/or roads.

Jt @ 8/3/2012 9:20 AM

Go watch the full video that is out there and not the media's highlights. These peaceful protestors can be heard threatening officers, making statements of "if you let them go, we will let you go". That sounds like a hostage situation to me. The fact that they were warned for as long as they were, and you can hear the officer tell each person sitting of the consequences of their actions and what will happen is above par. This could have gone a lot worse, and the officers showed great restraint. I feel for the Lt. and believe he was unjustly sacrificed as a scape goat.

Defense Guy @ 8/3/2012 1:01 PM

Some of these comments deserve a response: First, the comment from "Tom" that stated: "We have gotten to the point where police are just meat on a hook dangling in front of criminals to see what they're going to do." Really? Are you serious? Last time I looked, at 100% public expense the tax paying community has provided police officers with full-time police academies with pay and benefits while training, a compensated field training period after graduation, expensive radio communication equipment including for many agencies MDT computers, continuous patrol vehicle fleet upgrades/additions of new models, uniforms, ballistic vests for many (should be all), a plethora of various pieces of equipment for their safety (guns, batons, OC, etc..), funding for SWAT teams to perform high risk operations so line officers will be safer, continuing education and training opportunities, favorable pension plans and this is ALL at public expense, need I go on? And because one knuckle-head at a University (widely known for strong liberal views) gets fired for pepper-spraying a bunch of passive college kids -- an act that if he had even half of a brain in his head he should have known was: excessive on its face; cruel in its context; and was NOT going to be supported by the UC Berkeley Administration, the Student Body or the surrounding Berkeley public!

Defense Guy @ 8/3/2012 1:02 PM

A police officer should have a better understanding of the community that they police and the relative social norms and mores of that community, and while I submit that spraying defenseless kids in the face with OC is improper and wrong regardless of the community in which it occurs...I have no doubt that there are some communities in America where this behavior (notwithstanding my personal objection to this type of police behavior) may be more tolerated (Mississippi and Arizona come to mind). However, Berkeley was NOT one of those communities, and his failure to recognize such demonstrates his lack of good judgment. Having said all this, I don’t see how you can look at all the facts and then conclude that because an incompetent police officer got fired that must now mean that the entire public has “gotten to the point where police are just meat on a hook dangling in front of criminals to see what they're going to do." I submit that such an extraordinary conclusion is totally unsupported by the objective evidence and represents a remarkable leap of logic which totally ignores reality.

Lee @ 8/3/2012 4:12 PM

@Defense Guy.


You sound like an attorney, not a cop...correct? Where did you find all of the department funding for training and gear files to back up what you say? I know of several departments struggling to do anything, cutting back on equipment training and not hiring because they can't afford it....So.....hmmm.


It was pepper spray....a Use Of Force justifiable with a person/s being uncooperative. In this case very uncooperative...nowhere near "defenseless kids" as stated by you, considering that "after all of the evidence" they were chanting verbally they were going to not let the officers leave and intentionally blocked a patrol cars path....Pepper spray is not lethal, and causes no bodily harm. Just hurts like hell for a while. Take your talk about no toleration for police behavior somewhere that matters...friggin DB.

[email protected] @ 8/3/2012 10:46 PM

Lee, Dead on! "defense guy" clearly IDs' his profession as a ambulabence chaser, as we said in the olden days. And it's funny but every cop I know pays taxes, to you know,provide those luxuries we all enjoy. Like money to the spouses of fallen Officers.

TERRY ZECH @ 8/4/2012 5:32 AM

LT Davis did as he was instructed to do which was to restore order and enforce campus and california statutes and regulations. the students were endangering other officers and the student in custody by blocking the patrol car. What did you want him to do wait until the students forcibly took the student back fromtheofficers. Or maybe just let the students run wild through the campus.

Defense Guy @ 8/4/2012 3:29 PM

I posted a very brief two-part analysis covering two issues.

First, I challenged the proposition first posed by another individual (Tom) that made, what I felt was a remarkable leap in logic, specifically, Tom hypothesized that the firing of Lt. Pike equals America now turning on law enforcement and quoting now from that original post Tom said: "We have gotten to the point where police are just meat on a hook dangling in front of criminals to see what they're going to do." I challenged that proposition {i.e., Pike being fired = America hates all police} as I did not believe the evidence supported this proposition. I pointed to the large public expenditures required in building a professional law enforcement infrastructure as objective evidence of STRONG public support and I believed that these expenditures undermined Tom’s original bold assertion that “Pike being fired = America hates police” as this bold assertion fails to account for and explain the contradictory evidence of STRONG public support for law enforcement as measured by revenue expenditures. I concede that the motivation for these expenditures may be for less than benevolent reasons, but I am -- in this discussion at least, less concerned with what “motivates” the public to support these expenditures and more concerned with the fact that the expenditures are made and thereby demonstrates strong public support for the police regardless of the underlying motivation that gives rise to that support. However, clearly benevolent support does exist as evidenced by “spousal death benefits” which, in turn, is even more evidence of STRONG public support and more contrary evidence calling into question the validity of Tom’s original proposition that “Pike Fired = America hates Cops”)
The second issue I raised was the factors that called into question the judgment exercised by Lt. Pike – I will have to address that issue in a second post due to space limitations.

Chuck McKenzie @ 8/5/2012 12:27 PM

Well, another Liberal bloviating about the evil police. Mr. Defense Guy, since you are all-knowing, what would you have done in that situation? I was a police officer for 35 years, dealing with idiots like you, always there to take the side of the "poor, defenseless student" or whoever, but never offer a solution to the problem. Speak now so we will know how to handle these mush-minded cretins in the future.

Defense Guy @ 8/5/2012 3:16 PM

I can really feel the love here :-) I have been called an “Ambulance Chaser”; “bloviating Liberal” [so far my favorite]; told to leave because my speech was unwelcome [ironic for reasons that should be obvious]; and just for good measure I have now been called an “idiot” – in the words of the SNL Weekend Update Nick Cage ‘That is high praise, indeed’.
I am truly surprised that my argument, distilled to its most basic premise, that an analysis of current revenue expenditures is a reflection of strong public support for law enforcement and this, in turn, undermines Tom’s original argument (i.e., Pike fired = America hates cops) – I really am surprised that my argument has garnered so much emotion. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I would point out that the responses have been limited to ad hominen attacks (see above), and nobody has offered any rebuttal argument undermining my central thesis as outlined above. I would listen with an open mind if anybody has an argument demonstrating flaws in my reasoning, but alas all I have heard so far has been attacks on me…not my argument… ‘High praise, indeed’.
Turning my attention to the second issues I raised, the argument that Lt. Pike exercised poor judgment. First, everyone has jumped on my original characterization that the students were “defenseless” – I stand by that characterization. All responses so far have attempted to rebut that characterization by pointing out the student’s behavior which, so goes the argument, JUSTIFIED the use of non-lethal chemical weaponry. Even if the justification argument has merit that does not change the undisputed fact that the students were “defenseless” – that is they did not have any type of “defenses” such as gas masks, hazmat suits, protective respiratory gear, eye protection, etc... Thus, even if the use of force was justified the students were still “defenseless” against the chemicals and no matter how justified the use of force the fact that they were defense

Defense Guy @ 8/5/2012 3:17 PM

For the reasons outlined above, I stand by the characterization that the students were “defenseless”.
As I argued in my original post, I felt that Lt. Pike’s use of force (chemical weapons) was excessive on its face and cruel in its context. I stand by that. But for the purpose of argument let’s say I’m WRONG! He still should NOT have sprayed a bunch of defenseless (yeah…I said it…see above) college kids considering the totality of circumstances he was confronted with. Let’s review them: Lt. Pike was charged with policing a ‘protest’ on the most liberal university in the USA, situated in one of the most liberal regions of the USA (Bay Area), and the proposed use of force was against a group of young Berkeley students who were unarmed, sitting down and chanting! Another big factor was that, for a variety of complex social reasons, MANY Berkeley students come from wealthy (read: powerful) families. So, considering he was standing on the most liberal college campus, in one of the most liberal cities, facing unarmed/sitting/chanting students (who for good measure probably came from affluent [powerful] families) Considering these factors he then decided that it would be a good idea to casually stand there and spray down these students…yes NOTHING can possibly go wrong with this battle plan. I say again, EVEN IF the use of force was justified under the force continuum (i.e. textbook) it was a bone-headed idea to pursue that force considering the totality of factors that I have outlined AND these were known to Mr. Pike on the day in question.
He should have known that, in a liberal community that values protest, such police behavior would not be condoned, EVEN IF the book said it was justified. And what happened here? Community support? No - Community outrage and he was fired. As I said in my original post, a police officer needs to be in touch with the values of the community they police, and be mindful of those values even if they are not his/hers

Aj @ 8/6/2012 6:31 AM

@Serena: your a moron. learn all the facts before you go spouting off. The crowd surrounded the officers after they made arrests, blocked thier exit and began chanting for the oficers to release thier arrestees or they would not be allowed to leave. THIS is America. You cannot surround the police and demand the release or arrestees. They will have thier day in court. Learn the facts, then formulate an opinion.

Five-O @ 8/6/2012 7:17 AM

I can understand the concept of what Defense Guy is trying to say. The funds given to local law enforcement for equpiment does come out of the tax payers pockets. Including the taxes of the officers in the community. Some agencies unfortuantley get less funding than others, and it typically is the communities that have the most problems because those communities have limited resources. But that doesn't equate to support for the police. Equipment is necessary to do our jobs properly including tasers and OC spray, otherswise the only threat is the use of dealy force or physical confrontation. Both of which are big paychecks for lawyers. So naturally they want the situation to escalate. Cha-Ching! As far as the defenseless students. Indivually they may be defenseless, collectively they could be a mob, that could turn violent. It happens at sports events, concerts and other percieved injustices. Peaceful protest is one of the constitutional rights LE protects. Threats are not a consitutional right and trying to hinder doing our job is not as well. Supreme Court cases support this level of force over hands-on or use of duty weapon. Whether Lt. Pike should have lost his job is not for me to say. I don't pay his salary and I don't create the policy on how to handle protests. I'm not sure if civilians are aware that we have to get pepper-sprayed during training to carry OC. Uncomfortable as hell, clearly not life threatening and if it worked on the protestors...effective. Just don't tase me Bro!.

Jelly2283 @ 8/6/2012 7:56 AM

Defense Guy......I just don't understand your logic. You start off your post with insults to police officers. Then you complain later in your posts that the officers are being mean and unfair to you in their comments. I was taught a long time ago, by a very smart individual that, sometimes it's not what you write/say, but how you write or say it. I find your comments belittling to police officers. Furthermore, there is no question that when you started this post(on a police website), your intentions were to incite police officers, not enter into an intellectual debate. My guess is no one wants to take the time and debate this with you on a blog because this ideology is what officers deal with constantly on the street. It's kind of like the painter's home is always the home that needs to be painted. Life really isn't as complicated as some make it. Laws are pretty easy to follow. If the sign says 55 mph drive 55. If you drink too much, don't drive. If you're told to leave, leave. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly, there are other legal avenues to take. I know that protesting is a legal right. But there is a clear difference between protesting and disrupting. Honestly, I have never seen anything good come out of disrupting. Cities burned, poop in parks and millions of tax dollars (as you pointed out in your fist post) going to waste. Let's think about that one. Would you as a tax payer rather spend your money having the police well equiped and well trained or having city parks completely renovated and cleaned because some thought throwing poop would change the world?

DEADMAN @ 8/6/2012 6:41 PM

I think the chief should be pulled aside and instructed that the LT.,is not to be fired,demoted maybe,suspended no,he was in fact following orders and he controlled the situation when the large crowd of peaceful protesters became an unruly mob that threatened the safety of the officers present by refusing to comply,failing to follow lawful orders of police officer,several times,surrounding the officers,putting them in jeopardy and escalating the situation again,at that point they were a mob.,willfully disobeying an order to dispearse and clear the road and by do so they were attempting to aid in the escape of the prisoner in th car.They were pepper sprayed,so what,they got off easy,they weren't tasered probably because the chief is afraid of the responsibility and liability involved.
As i see it the chief failed miserably to support and back-up his officers and the lieutenant and i'm sure that will reap its rewards further down the pike.Pepper spray is nothing but a mild irritant,meant to slow people down.Out of everybody there,i have more regard for that lieutenant than anybody else on scene,he took the lead in an effort to minimize injuries,job done,the little kiddies had to go home and bathe,boo hoo.Serena,you're a complete moron,tom,a really bad choice of words,and defense guy,you probably see and advertise yourself as a civil rights attorney but more probably an ambulance chaser with several ethics violations for chasing victims.
This department might not have all of the equipment they ned,but i'll bet the chief gets a bonus at Christmas time.

Defense Guy @ 8/6/2012 10:51 PM

You wrote: “Defense Guy......I just don't understand your logic. You start off your post with insults to police officers. Then you complain later in your posts that the officers are being mean and unfair to you in their comments.” RESPONSE: I merely challenged an assertion that Tom had made that essentially said, (reduced to its most basic form) stated – {Pike fired = American Public Hates Cops}. I then argued that an analysis of expenditure revenues undermines Tom’s assertion, I further argued that the revenue expenditure was evidence demonstrating strong support and commitment to police officers and their safety. I of course conceded, early on, that the public motivation for those expenditures was not entirely benevolent, certainly other factors also motivate these public expenditures – such as the public’s rational self-interested desire for a well-trained and professional police force would also mean that they are presumably safer than if that same police department consisted of ill-trained and underfunded officers with low morale. Thus, I conceded that these revenue expenditure decisions were a mixed bag of motivations – but certainly one of them was the public desire to support the police to be safer through building a professional police infrastructure. (i.e., benevolent motivation). It is this factor I focused on to rebut Tom’s argument that ‘America Hates Cops’. I still fail to see what part of that excessively academic argument has you so upset. Please cut and paste the portions of the argument where I insulted all police officers, or any other section you find contemptible and I will respond. If you can show me, using my own words, where I “insulted” all police officers – I will make a public apology.

Defense Guy @ 8/6/2012 11:02 PM

Deadman wrote: “defense guy, you probably see and advertise yourself as a civil rights attorney but more probably an ambulance chaser with several ethics violations for chasing victims.”

And the warmth and love continues to embrace me – now on top of all the other things that I am (i.e., bloviating liberal, idiot, etc….) I am, according to ‘Deadman’, also an unethical person -- wow. Using my best Nicholas Cage voice impression: “That is high praise”. [If you don't get this joke you need to watch Saturday Night Live more!]

Jelly2283 @ 8/7/2012 5:46 AM

Post 1 Defense Guy In my opinion, Tom was expressing his frustrations on a site designed for LEO to do so. Secondly, note the fact that he started his sentence with "Another". Meaning his frustration comes from more than one situation like this officer. Because of the media and political atmosphere, cops/authority are being exploited throughout this country. LEO's are for the most part conservative and in a time in which this country is so devided, the liberal media is quick to judge cops without knowing or wanting to know the facts. Lets face it, a cop hitting someone, shooting someone or even arresting someone is media worthy. Even more so if the media can put just enough spin on it to make the cops look "dirty". Now, that's big news. Perhaps this was what Tom was trying to express when he wrote about dangling meat on a hook. Reguardless, it was arrogant of you to question his frustration until you "walk in his shoes" as a LEO. And more so arrogant to say that he doen't have the right to feel that way because he has been supplied with cool things like radios, vest and swat gear. You are confused, it's not the public support that officers are angry with, it is the constant exploitation of authority for either political or monatary gain. It is the fact that officers are tired of watching the fall of authority because a FEW want to cry out about how mean the world has been to them. It is the frustration that politicians cave to demands for a vote and the media caves for the story. Right or wrong.

Jelly2283 @ 8/7/2012 6:46 AM

Post 2...Defense Guy..Berkely students....wealthy-yes, liberal defiantly, powerful-(?), defenseless-NO! These are college educated students. They were armed with the best weapon there is, their minds. They could have just as easily used it and decided that what they were doing just wasn't working nor was it in the best interest of their school, but they didn't. They decided to push authority to see how far they could take it. Hummmmmmm let's see the last time I checked, the tax payers, even in a liberal area like this, that "values protest", DON"T PAY THE COPS TO LOSE.

They were also armed by simple numbers. It takes VERY little, if the police allow, for a crowd to turn from peaceful to out of control. Could you imagine if students began to bust windows, start fires and turn over cars on the campus. Then I guess the officers would have been fired for not doing there job. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. That's what you get when you have a country so divided in values.

As far as an apology, don't need it, don't want it. You have the right to say what you want. Just know that if it is posted on a LEO site and it even has a hint of anti-cop, your going to get what you get until they figure out a way of squirting peperspay through the internet lines...........Take care, Jelly

Defense Guy @ 8/8/2012 1:37 PM


Post 1

Your comments are insightful, I was admittedly impressed by your thoughtful defense of the “@Tom” posting where you isolated the use of the word “Another” and built a rational argument that Tom’s frustration was actually an evolutionary process and not just this one incident. It made me rethink some of my earlier arguments on this blog…but I’m too arrogant of course to make any concessions :-). I will admit that I was momentarily tempted to grab on to your line: “you get what you get” and run with it…asking you rhetorically if Lt. Pike just saw a bunch of granola eating liberal protesters challenging authority and decided that it was time for those college kids to “get what they get” – I decided not to go with that argument because I don’t believe it to be true. I don’t believe that Lt. Pike had any hatred in him as evidenced by his facial expression, body language, and the sound of his voice (he does not present on the video as a man out of control or filed with visible hatred) – he seems almost casual/detached about it – which raised much different criticisms. I do think, as I have already said, that he executed a poorly designed battle plan to handle this protest, and it is my understanding that he was the Command Officer on the scene…so if it goes bad it falls on him. I do believe that HE believed he was justified , and I believe he was clearly not justified and therefore the force was excessive. But we will have to agree to disagree on the Lt. Pike issue.

Defense Guy @ 8/8/2012 1:40 PM


Post 2

You still seem annoyed by my revenue expenditure argument (as everyone else here seems to be) so in the future I will stay away from hot button issues like ‘measuring relative public attitudes and priorities by analysis of revenue allocation decisions’ – for now on we should confine our discussion to more neutral topics that won’t get everyone all fired up…I know how about “abortion” or “same-sex marriage rights”. You also graciously limited your accusations of me to being “arrogant”…a charge to which I plead the Fifth. Finally, so the record is clear, I never offered an apology (besides I’m too arrogant to apologize, right?) I simply challenged that if someone were to cut and paste my alleged “insult” to all police officers I would publicly apologize – I felt confident that this could not be done as I had not insulted all police officers. Well were both busy people, according to @serena you have babies to go kill??? and for me I just heard an ambulance go screaming by my office so I have to jump in my car and go chase it down – take care.

dan taylor @ 9/28/2012 11:03 AM

You all know that we police officers are allowed to batter and harm unarmed individuals for not following our instructions. Everyone is a dirtbag except us!

EDWARD @ 5/19/2013 2:27 PM

What this officer did was excessive, where was the threat? Things like this make me ashamed to be a police officer and even worse makes me question my 26 years in the USMC. Is this what I fought for, is this what I almost lost my life for?

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