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UC Davis Cop in Pepper Spray Controversy Was a "Hero" 41/2 Years Ago

Lt. John Pike saved the life of a fellow officer in 2006.

Update: Although has has received two meritorious service awards, he has also been at the center of controversy. An anti-gay slur made by Pike played into a 2008 discrimination lawsuit filed against the department by a former officer, the AP reports. That resulted in a $240,000 settlement. Read more on CBS News

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Original Story: It was only a few years ago that the UC Davis police officer now at the center of public outrage over the fracas in the Quad Friday was enjoying media attention of a more positive variety. 


Lt. John Pike was a sergeant with the UC Davis police in 2006 when he stopped a distressed patient wielding surgical scissors from stabbing a fellow cop. The episode at the UC Davis Medical Center earned Pike his second Meritorious Service Award.

Here’s a description of the scene from the UC Davis press office in 2007: "I hit her hard," the 34-year-old former Marine recalled. So hard that he not only knocked down the patient, but [fellow officers], too.

"For me it was just a normal day at the office," said Pike, who went to the floor with the suspect as he grabbed her arm, the one holding the scissors. "She posed a threat, and I had to handle it. I didn't want her to hurt either of my partners."

Video of Friday's incident in the Quad shows on seated protesters. Protesters have named Pike as one of the sprayers. Tweets claiming to contain Pike's email address, private phone number and home adress in Davis were posted Saturday morning. 

Pike picked up a promotion to lieutenant when he received the Meritorious Service Award at a ceremony in 2007.  His first public recognition with UC Davis police was in 2003, when he used his patrol car to safely prevent a drunk driver from entering Highway 99 against traffic.

According to the UCD press office, Pike started his law enforcement career with the Sacramento Police Department. His public LinkedIn profile lists him as a graduate of California State University, Hayward and a member of the Theta Chi fraternity.

In a letter addressed to the UC Davis community Saturday, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi called the use of pepper spray against the protesters, "chilling to us all." 

Pike's past three years of salary information have been added to the Davis Wiki. His salary is more than $100,000 each year. 

A fake Twitter account with the handle @PepperSprayPike has been created, with tweets like "IF I WAS STRANDED ON A DESERTED ISLAND AND COULD ONLY SPRAY ONE PERSON... IT WOULD BE.... AHHHH!! TOO HARD!! NEED CHEETOS!!!"

Jj Hill November 21, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Peaceful Civil disobedience is a respected way to evoke attention and meaningful change. This sad example of a Marine and Police Officer pepper spraying peaceful protesters just underscores how some of the Police who are sworn to serve and protect society are taking on the role of punisher as well. I am glad his name is out and hope everyone who knows this POS will now get a better picture what this POS is all about.
cminca November 21, 2011 at 07:55 PM
You use tear gas to disperse people. You use pepper spray to put them out of commission. The stated goal of the police was to have the students disperse, yet they use pepper spray. Not only the work of a coward--but not according to training or standard practice.
john November 21, 2011 at 10:55 PM
He obviously had fun doing it. Another fine example of a policeman that was hired to "protect and serve". All students should stop paying tuition immediately as its going towards his administraive vacation.
TankMan November 22, 2011 at 04:00 AM
Guess what folks, actions have consequences, you don't listen to the police, you earn the consequence. In this case it was getting squirted with a non-lethal irritant, boo-hoo. How would you all defend your actions if there were a fire, and these "protesters" caused the exits to back up and people died? How would you all feel if you lived in Libya and you were shot and killed for your protests? No instead you all moan and complain over the unfairness of someone making you temporarily uncomfortable then hop in your Prius and drive back to your centrally heated apartments with refrigerators full of fresh food. Peek over our borders you poor indignant freedom fighters, watch people starve and die for their beliefs while you whine about being temporarily uncomfortable. I am ashamed of all of you, except the police officer...
Republican't November 22, 2011 at 05:00 AM
TankMan is probably a police officer. Hey, TankManlyMan, if you have half a brain left after all of your binge drinking and drunk driving in your patrol car I would suggest you better yourself with an education and get a real job. What you saw on Friday at Davis is the seed plantings of what is happening in Syria (not Libya). I know it is tough to read the news (8th grade level material) and comprehend...but you should try anyway. Maybe you should start your new educational endeavor by having someone read you the US Constitution. I suggest listening for the part about peaceful assembly.
TankMan November 22, 2011 at 06:07 AM
Pretty pathetic response Republican, thumb your nose and call me names instead of reading for comprehension. Despite your hatred for the folks that keep criminals from pushing your pasty vegan face in and stealing your Birkenstocks, I don't have the privilege of being law enforcement of any flavor, mainly because I surely don't have the patience to put up with entitled crusaders like yourself. The funny thing is, I approve and agree with sentiment of the Occupy movement, I just don't have any tolerance for spoiled Davisite children who can't deal with the (very non-lethal, very temporary) consequences of their own actions. To compare yourself with Syria, where wholesale slaughter is occurring, while you have in Davis, what, two dozen overgrown children squirted with irritant, is extremely telling of your entitled arrogant attitude. Why don't you Google "Hubris" and try to understand how it applies to your attitude? Oh no that's right, it is intellectually easier for you to call me a "pig" and discount me..
Steve Ungles November 22, 2011 at 06:32 AM
Davis PD=Cowards for backstabbing their brother and sister officers at UCDPD.
Steve Ungles November 22, 2011 at 06:33 AM
Republican't you need to grow up. I hope you are a child, because your post is childish.
Steve Ungles November 22, 2011 at 06:36 AM
The protestors could have dispersed as they were ordered to do. Instead after they were told they'd be pepper sprayed, they stayed. It's not like the cops beat them with batons, shot them with rubber (or real) bullets, used Tasers on them ("Don't tase me bro"), they used the least amount of force, which is pepper spray. You pay the cops to do their job and when they do you cry like a spoiled child. You hate cops so bad, the next time you need one, call a crackhead, or a protestor.
John Carman November 22, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I completely agree, every officer present is complicit and an accomplice, Pike's actions were an outrageous abuse of power and authority and, any person there charged with that power had an ethical and moral duty to intervene.
John Carman November 22, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Well said.
Mynamis Restricted November 22, 2011 at 11:22 PM
i beg to differ Mr. Steve Sir.: It is clearly yours... that is the childish post, admittedly the other fellows wasn't much more sophisticated or even enlightening. Your post here was not only ignorant, but exceedingly unfair, bordering on biased biased. *tongue lodged firmly in cheek* To wit: i have been posting everywhere it counts, suggesting an overhaul of City Councils position and, by proxy DPD policy and protocol in Mutual Aid situations specific to aid on campus designed to support Campus police with Occupiers. I am willing to go out on a limb and suggest an on the field walk-off in the middle of a dispursal in a case such as transpired Friday. Why, because the actions of the pepper sparayer were not only unethical, unprofessional and, frankly, 'chicken-shyt'! They were illegal! The upcoming lawsuits will prove.liability, no doubt there... Moreover, DPD actions were hardly unsupportive. They were more supportive than they should be. You imply DPD should have the bac ks of their "brother and sisters" at the expense of not only law but personal integrity. That too, is bull-shyt.
Mynamis Restricted November 22, 2011 at 11:26 PM
(Cont.) while I'm here: Read what you wrote, and tell us again, on here, that cops should support cops no matter what... I eagerly await your scholarly response... *I imagine you believe 5 officers unloading their clips to restrain one felon wielding a knife 6 feet away is justified too. This way none of the 6 have to take moral responsibility. This kind of camaraderie, while laudable, is not ethical if legal, and certainly stands on no lower moral ground than your "back-stabbing your brother and sister" position attempting to lay a guilt trip on DPD officers and their future behavior. Campus Cops are a good force, and DPD is even better. I think they both will do the right thing next time. And a next time there will be.. Minus The present Chief and Lt Pike, whom I believe had a lapse in judgement allowed by Katehi policy to let that kind of decision be made in the field. she didn't tell them to do it, but she did not set parameter to preclude it either... Again, I await your considered reply.
Justin Cox (Editor) November 22, 2011 at 11:29 PM
On the subject of "cops supporting cops no matter what," this letter is written by a former cop (and Marine) who is very passionately criticizing police. http://patch.com/A-nSW3
Maggie November 23, 2011 at 12:12 AM
I agree with you. They should have listened to the police officers when asked multiple times to leave.
Mynamis Restricted November 23, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Justin, I don't need to read anybody, not to suggest I know it all, just to say this has all happened before in history. To wit: i just opened today's front page of the enterprise where we are reminded the 9th Federal appellate court, only ten years ago ryled a police officer can be held liable for using excessive force. That excessive force was (drum roll here) pepper spray on seated no-violent protesters. Remember that logging protest up in Humbolt? I do...Like I said, any support of Lt. P's actions and the policies that allowed it is bankrupt. By extension, DPD policies that would not, in my estimation of our DPD, have resuted in this pepper spray actions hardly justify Mr. Ungles characterization of DPD officers as cowarldy backstabbers. *I am no longer waiting for that scholarly response; perhaps your silence underscores the success of my intent, which was for you to maybe give some thought to your emotions before expressing them as...opinions.? Someone might take you seriously? You get a pass..
TankMan November 23, 2011 at 02:38 AM
M.R. I am really struggling to follow your nearly illegible writing, spelling and sentence structure, you are clearly not a college student, but I still can't understand your point? I would be extremely interested in knowing, that if you were in the position of the police, that these protesters, not everywhere on campus, just at this one location, were blocking a fire exit, and your boss told you that they HAD to move to keep the other people on campus safe, and leaving them in place was NOT an option, what would you do?
Mynamis Restricted November 23, 2011 at 02:53 AM
I'm going to pretend yu are nt hating the player, but hating the game; my meaning is clear..Your above hypothetical scenario isn't relevant enough motivate a response, not a thougtful one, but I'll try. I would do what was right. In your scenario, force them to move. But pepper spray? no...Clear? and no, I don't bother to worry much about print ready prose on this blog, still, I'll try a little harder n the off chance someone who implies i am something less than the sharpest knife in the drawer, elects to embarass himself in an effort to embare ass me...*lol* My subscribers don't complain so, um, I'll get over your, um...struggles. *TFF*
Mary Keel November 23, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Just a side note here: When you work in a nursing home or hospital with psychiatric patients, you disarm them from time to time, don't think much about it and just go on and finish the shift. No biggie, no honors, no promotions. I'm not kidding - I personally have tackled a man and grabbed scissors out of his hands, once a knife and a fork, etc - and my friend took a big piece of broken glass out of a guy's hands before he got to cut his forearm open. I've been bitten - badly - and knocked nearly unconscious (it was a young woman and she did succeed in knocking the male charge nurse out and sending him to the hospital), I've been thrown around by my hair, had an entire mouthful of spit lobbed in my face, and can't count the number of times I've been punched and scratched - and threatened. Oh yes, and we had a male patient with big steel hooks for hands; once in awhile he'd get frustrated and start swinging them around with full intent to rip someone to pieces - I've tackled him more than once, too, and with the help of others, restrained him until he felt better (his name was Edgar and he was one of my favorites). It's just part of the job - for a lowly nurse's aide at a nurse's aide wage - minimum wage. It just kills me that this big guy - a Marine Sergeant and armed cop, tackles a woman with a pair of surgical scissors - meaning the blade is less than 1" long - takes her to the ground and disarms her (he said he "hit her hard,") and he gets honored and promoted for it.
TankMan November 23, 2011 at 03:41 AM
So your answer is,,,, no answer? Or you choose to avoid the question at all by claiming it isn't "relevant?" And yeah, someone who doesn't take the time or effort to,,, well spell, the message does get lost in struggling through the translation. I am glad your vast legion of loyal subscribers can also read pidgin english, you'll pardon me for "embarrassing myself" in front of all of your fans, I'm funny that way... Excellent job on the answer by the way, I am going to borrow that one and when I can't answer something I am going to claim it is not worth a thoughtful reply instead. Well on this issue, let me just pretend, your un-thoughtful answer was that you would "force them to move" but it is pretty obvious that you talk lots and your real world experience is theoretical, do you have any idea what it takes for a police officer to remove a single adult from a line of other adults who are holding on to him? It requires, probably some form of wrestling/martial arts. If a protester were to tangle up with MR the Police Officer face to face, you would be required to hurt them bodily to move them, no amount your dazzling prose would suffice, you would have to bruise things up, twist arms, bounce heads off each other, it would have been incredibly physical and waaay more damaging to the protesters and maybe to yourself than what the officers did.
TankMan November 23, 2011 at 03:41 AM
So despite your righteous indignation, these officers did the least harmful, least damaging thing possible to get these spoiled children to take it to the other side of the quad (not leave, not stop protesting, just move) and get out of the fire exits. I don't think that in your world view, that any action that any police officer had taken would be acceptable to you, I think you just hate cops and are jumping on the bandwagon and taking an opportunity to kick them while you have a chance. It's too bad you you have jumped on this thin issue to demonstrate your biases and hatred, it makes your motivations blindingly transparent when you choose such a shallow hill to die on.
Lawson November 23, 2011 at 05:04 AM
wrong on all thee paragraphs. God night sir.*befuddled, shaking my head* " Methinks you doth protest too much." You certainly presume o much. You need to real all my posts today, take note of the times, and consider the facts of the week-end and finally today's town hall meeting revelations. Then read today's enterprise, front page. I have my biases, they hardly are against cops, particularly local guys and gals hat protect me daily. We just disagree this one incident, this one cop and his chief and her chancellor. You say thy were justified, I say they were not and the terminations and lawsuits, and the 9th circuit of appeals agree. Can we move on now? *tips hat, shakes hand*
janis hartman November 23, 2011 at 01:39 PM
You are correct. The police should be there to protect and serve. What I want to know is where is their training? Who have they been trained by and for what purpose? Law enforcement has a huge and necessary role in our society. We count on them to protect us. So,we not only have an untrained, unprepared police department, that seems in chaos, it goes beyond that to being an oppressive police department, which breaks the law itself. How can this current situation be tolerated? It is beyond outrageous.
janis hartman November 23, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Thank you, sir. Having the honor of having many Marines as my friends, I couldn't agree more with your assessment of Lt John Pike. Never, ever have I seen my Marine friends behave in anyway that would harm their fellow citizen. Their honor will not allow it. I am perplexed that this man counts himself as a Marine, yet behaves in the manner. Thank you for your letter, your service as a civil rights attorney and your service as a Marine. You honor your country and your countrymen. We are grateful.
janis hartman November 23, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Really? And if you were sitting, with friends, linked arms and a police officer approached you and told you that you couldn't do that, and you ignored him, you would be ok with being sprayed with military grade pepper spray, as you sat there? Wow! That's incredible. Good luck with that and with living in a society that tolerates it. Sounds like utopia to me.
janis hartman November 23, 2011 at 02:01 PM
This is for Justin Cox. You wrote "On a purely visual level, the pepper spraying looks bad. The police definitely were surrounded, which qualifies it as a threatening situation... technically. But there are so many videos that just don't relay that threat visually." Sorry, I don't agree at all. True, I was not there, so what I am saying is only as a viewer of the video showing Lt Pike spraying the sitting protesters with military grade pepper spray. He stepped back and forth over the sitting protesters. He could have played leap frog over their shoulders with the other officers, and no one would have stopped him. He clearly and freely walked, back and forth, without any interference from the seated people he was spraying! So, how, oh how were the police officers "surrounded" and "threatened"? Please, explain that to all of us. We await your reply
janis hartman November 23, 2011 at 02:11 PM
Sir, you are wrong and I am sorry for you. I want to live in THE country that allows free speech and the right to assemble and I thank the founders of our country who set it up for us. All of us have not only a right, but a duty to see that these rights are not violated by anyone, including police officers. I love my country and believe in its ideals. And, I am willing to stand up for what the founders made me an heir to. This country and its ideals are worth fighting for and it is also worth trying to reason with someone who doesn't truly understand the gift of the constitution. And really, is Libya the country that we aspire to be. I think not.
John Carman November 23, 2011 at 03:32 PM
@ Janis, I can't agree more with your assessment of the situation. Lt. Pike and his thugs had total control of the situation, it would have been easy for the crowd to attack the officers or Lt. Pike when he WILLFULLY and CAVALIERLY abused a seated group of students practicing peaceful civil disobedience, but to the credit of everybody present, they each maintained a grounded ethical standing. To anyone believing the officers were ever in danger please consider this, a group of armed hunters enters a rabbit farm... should the hunters, at anytime, feel threatened or trapped?? NO. In fact, the very decision to use pepper spray escalated the tension, the officers seem to be aware their group action reflected a lack of integrity and moral judgement, only then do they seem to show concern for their safety. But, as evidenced, at no time were they ever threatened, in fact the only weapon ever wielded against the officers was verbal shame.
Justin Cox (Editor) November 23, 2011 at 06:21 PM
You're absolutely right, Janis. My intention was not to defend his decision. It was just to explore why he might have made it. That's why I used "technically" when I said it was threatening. I agree that in reality, it was not threatening. But police procedure says that once cops are surrounded, it's technically a threat. It's bad that it's so black-and-white, because obviously nobody was going to harm those officers, and Lt. Pike demonstrated that they could step over with ease. But I think it's valuable to know that that policy says to help understand what guided Lt. Pike. Feel free to email me at justin.cox@patch.com. I'm the editor of the site and haven't been able to answer comments as much as I'd like because I'm so busy. Just understand that i'm not advocating an opinion, just elaborating on details. Thanks.
Lawson November 23, 2011 at 08:40 PM
*smiling*

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