UC Davis Launches Probe After Pepper Spray Video

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi called the video "chilling"

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    AP
    University of California, Davis, student Mike Fetterman, receives a treatment for pepper spray by UC Davis firefighter Nate Potter, after campus police dismantled an Occupy Wall Street encampment on the campus quad in Davis, Calif., Friday, Nov. 18, 2011.

    The University of California, Davis has launched an investigation in the wake of video showing an officer using pepper spray on a group of protesters who appear to be sitting passively on the ground with their arms interlocked.

    Calling the video "chilling," UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said on Saturday she is forming a task force made up of faculty, students and staff to review the events surrounding the protests a day earlier. Katehi made the announcement in a message to the campus.

    In the video, the officer displays a bottle before spraying its contents on the seated protesters in a sweeping motion.

    Police have said protesters were warned repeatedly beforehand that force would be used if they didn't move.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

    Video (below) of a tense standoff between police and Occupy demonstrators at the University of California, Davis shows an officer using pepper spray on a group of protesters who appear to be sitting passively on the ground with their arms interlocked.

    The video — posted on YouTube — was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus and arrested 10 people, nine of them students.

    In the video, the officer displays a bottle before spraying its contents on the seated protesters in a sweeping motion while walking back and forth. Most of the protesters have their heads down, but at least one is hit in the face.

    Some members of a crowd gathered at the scene scream and cry out. The crowd then chants, "Shame on You," as the protesters on the ground are led away. The officers retreat minutes later with helmets on and batons drawn.

    It's not clear from the video what agency the officer who used the pepper spray represents. Officers from UC Davis and other UC campuses as well as the city of Davis responded to the protest, according to Annette Spicuzza, UC Davis police chief. Davis is about 80 miles north of San Francisco.

    Karen Nikos, a university spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that she expects to have comment on the incident later Saturday morning.

    Spicuzza told the Sacramento Bee that police used the pepper spray after they were surrounded. Protesters were warned repeatedly beforehand that force would be used if they didn't move, she said.

    "There was no way out of that circle," Spicuzza said. "They were cutting the officers off from their support. It's a very volatile situation."

    The tents went up on Thursday, and protesters were apparently warned on Friday morning that they had until 3 p.m. to take them down or they would be removed.