The police officer who pepper sprayed peaceful protesters at UC Davis last week was also a target in 2008 for an alleged antigay slur, costing the department $250,000 in a settlement.
University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike, who has risen in rank to oversee one-third of the department’s force, was seen in a viral video pepper spraying about a dozen students as they sat linking arms on the campus in a protest over tuition hike as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The school’s chancellor has apologized for the incident and has said the police disobeyed her specific orders.
In 2003, former UC Davis police officer Calvin Chang filed a racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit against the university’s police chief and board of regents. Pike was named in the complaint for having used “profane” antigay slurs in reference to Chang. Pike was Chang’s superior officer at the time.
It took Chang five years to win a $250,000 settlement in the lawsuit.
Chang was interviewed by ABC affiliate News 10 about the pepper-spray incident, saying he had warned the department and administration repeatedly used excessive force.
“When I saw [the pepper-spray incident], I was as shocked as anybody else, but not surprised when I realized who it was,” Chang said. “Every police officer should know students have a right; citizens have a right to assemble and to peacefully protest. And they should not be met with violence.”