Few will soon forget the video of former Lt. John Pike of the University of California, Davis police force.
On Nov. 18, 2011, activists were seated on pavement at UC Davis, protesting tuition increases. Pike pepper sprayed the protesters in the face at a close range … at closer range than recommended by the manufacturer.
After the incident, Pike remained on administrative leave with pay for eight months before finally being fired. SFgate.com says a database of state worker salaries shows Pike earned $119,067 in 2011. At that rate, eight months’ worth of pay would equal $79,378.
Two independent investigations commissioned by UC Davis concluded Pike acted unacceptably. However, a police internal affairs investigation found he acted reasonably. The campus police chief ultimately chose to fire Pike.
The video and photos of Pike discharging the orange pepper spray from a canister held not far away from the students’ faces went viral.
The police union says Pike received more than 17,000 angry or threatening e-mails, 10,000 text messages and hundreds of letters. He repeatedly changed his phone number and e-mail address and moved from location to location.
Pike filed a workers’ comp claim this summer about a year after he was fired.
Now, he’s been awarded $38,056 in workers’ comp benefits. A psychiatrist OK’d by both UC Davis and Pike’s attorney found the former officer suffered a “moderate” disability. Under California law, that qualified Pike for workers’ comp benefits.
By comparison, UC Davis settled with 21 protesters involved in the incident for a total of $1 million. $250,000 of that will be to their attorneys, making the average payout per protester $35,714. (Pike’s settlement includes $7,500 in attorney fees.)
In a statement, UC Davis said, “This case has been resolved in accordance with state law and processes on workers’ compensation. The final resolution is in line with permanent impairment as calculated by the state’s disability evaluation unit.”
Our translation: This may not make the most sense, but it complies with state law and there’s nothing more we can do about it.
Do you think the former officer deserves workers’ comp benefits? Let us know in the comments below.