DAVIS (CBS13/AP) – Nineteen student and alumni are suing UC Davis over the pepper-spraying incident on campus last November, saying their constitutional rights were violated.
University officials and campus police have under fire since widely circulated videos showed riot police dousing pepper spray on a row of students while they were sitting passively on the ground with their arms linked on November 18th.
The students claim in the complaint that the use of pepper-spray on seated students was excessive force that violated both their state and federal constitutional protections including the First Amendment.
“This was my first demonstration. So many of my friends can barely make ends meet and then another tuition hike was proposed. We had no idea there would be police in riot gear or that we would be pepper‐sprayed because we were making our voices heard,” said one of the plaintiffs, David Buscho, in a new release.
The lawsuit charges that UCD officials and the campus police department did not properly train and supervise the officers.
“It was the most painful experience of my life,” Buscho told CBS13. “I was completely blinded and disoriented.. I kept inhaling pepper spray as it dripped down my face and my mouth, and so I literally felt like I was suffocating.”
The students are being represented by the ACLU of Northern California. The lawsuit asks for unspecified punitive and compensatory damages but Buscho said money isn’t his motivation for joining the lawsuit.
“I’m not really interested in that,” he said. “For me it’s more about affecting a policy change.”
UC Davis officials declined to comment Wednesday because they said they had not seen the lawsuit.