Monday Poll – Should ‘Pepper spray cop’ be compensated for ‘psychiatric injury?’

Posted: July 29, 2013 in Law, Policing, Violence
Tags: , , , ,

In 2011, students staged a sit-in to protest tuition hikes at UC Berkley and, even though the protests were peaceful, the police ultimately decided to use force to end one demonstration. This resulted in a now iconic image of a campus police officer dousing seated protesters with pepper spray.  Not surprisingly, this resulted in a considerable media uproar, including by the president of Berkley, who later referred to the incident as “appalling.”

Two of the officers involved were placed on administrative leave, and one of them – Lt. John Pike (the sprayer) – was ultimately fired by the campus police chief.  Importantly, the firing was not recommended by the internal affairs investigative report, which concluded that “Lieutenant Pike’s use of pepper spray was reasonable under the circumstances.” The chief simply decided that the officer’s services were no longer required by the department and let him go.

The chief herself later resigned as well.

Here’s the widely seen video of the final stages of the incident:

Video of Berkley pepper spray incident

Last week, it was reported that Pike is now demanding compensation for “psychiatric injury” he suffered as a result of his involvement in the pepper spray incident.  He says that the extensive media coverage resulted in “dozens of threatening messages following the pepper-spraying incident, thanks to hackers who dredged up his personal information and shared it widely.”

There’s not a lot of detail available about the specifics of his claimed injury, but according to California law:

A psychiatric injury shall be compensable if it is a mental disorder which causes disability or need for medical treatment….

and

In order to establish that a psychiatric injury is compensable, an employee shall demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that actual events of employment were predominant as to all causes combined of the psychiatric injury.

There’s no mention I can find regarding the role that the employee’s own behavior plays in all of this, but a hearing is scheduled for mid-August to determine if Pike’s claim meets requirements for compensation.

So, what do you think? Should compensation be allowed for injuries that resulted from behavior that leads to termination? Or, does that really matter at all?

Vote and comment below!

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