UC Davis students sue over pepper-spray incident

  • FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2011 file photo, University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad in Davis, Calif. The Academic Senate of the University of California, Davis votes Friday on a no-confidence motion on Chancellor Linda Katehi, who has come under fire since police pepper-sprayed student Occupy protesters. The vote is non-binding but could influence her future as leader of UC's third largest campus. (AP Photo/The Davis Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — Students who were pepper-sprayed while sitting peacefully during a University of California, Davis protest last fall sued school officials Wednesday, claiming that campus police officers weren't trained on how to handle demonstrations properly.

Nineteen students and alumni represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit against UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and other campus administrators in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The legal action is the latest fallout from the Nov. 18 incident, when campus police doused pepper-spray on sitting protesters who had set up an Occupy camp and ignored orders to disperse. Widely viewed online videos of the incident generated national outrage and calls for the chancellor's resignation.

The lawsuit claims the police action violated the protesters' constitutional rights, and that the university failed to properly train and supervise officers on how to handle campus demonstrations. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and campus policies to prevent similar responses to non-violent protests.

David Buscho, a UC Davis mechanical engineering student who is among the plaintiffs, said he felt searing pain and had trouble breathing after being pepper-sprayed in the face.

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