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Judge: University of Calif. can release pepper-spray report but must remove officers' names
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ' The University of California can release a report on the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators by UC Davis police but must first remove the names of most officers, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said the task force report does not contain confidential personnel records of police officers who were interviewed during an investigation into the Nov. 18 crackdown on Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Still, Grillo said he wants the university to redact the names of officers to protect them from harassment. The exceptions are Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and Lt. John Pike, whose names became public during media coverage of the confrontation.
The judge said the document cannot be released for at least 21 days to give the officers a chance to appeal the ruling.
UC General Counsel Charles Robinson said the university was pleased the judge ruled almost entirely in UC's favor, but it would still like the officers' names made public.
"Sharing and discussing the task force report with the UC Davis community ' students, faculty and staff ' is a vitally important step toward healing and understanding," he said in a statement.
UC officials will work with the task force, headed by retired California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, to determine how and when the report will be made public, he said.
John Bakhit, an attorney for the campus police officers union that sought to block portions of the report, said the officers will meet soon to decide whether to appeal.
"I'm disappointed that the judge didn't see it our way, but I'm happy we're able to protect our officers from the risk of danger," Bakhit said.
The report was produced by a task force created to investigate the incident, when UC Davis police officers doused students who had set up an Occupy camp on campus.
Widely circulated video of the close-range pepper-spraying fueled campus protests, prompted calls for Chancellor Linda Katehi's resignation and became a rallying point for the Occupy movement.
The task force planned to publish its findings and recommendations online on March 6. But the judge blocked its release after the police officers' union requested a preliminary injunction, claiming the report contained the officers' names and confidential personnel information that should not be made public under state law.