Students File Federal Lawsuit Over UC Davis Pepper-Spraying

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.

  • Ginger Reese

    Exspell all of them and let someone who wants to learn. When they sign up they say they will obey all the laws. If they were in class this never would have happened.

    • john amperseed

      You’re so right Ginger! Your spelling and grammar are so atrocious (it means “bad”) that we really should let you take their place. That way, the intelligent people could go speak out while the ignorant ones at least learn to read and write.

    • Jonus

      Sitting across a sidewalk is now illegal according to you. The video I watched shows the students did nothing wrong.

      • Jeff

        Refusing to allow a police to his job s obstruction of justice, which is against the law. So instead of pepper spray you would have rather they got out hand cuffs?? zip ties or the fire hose?? The students were in the wrong here.

        Grow up

    • Joseph

      Hey Ginger, as a recent graduate of UC Davis I can say with complete certainty that you have no f***ing clue what you’re talking about.

      • Jeff

        Surrounding officers is committing obstruction of justice and IS AGAINST THE LAW. The Students are at fault and Deserved every bit of pepper spray they got. Grow Up. You respect law enforcement, you do not taunt them and ridicule them, entrapping them and threatening their safety like these kids did.

    • Joy Cohen

      Ginger it is a freedom we are supposed to have. Please leave the U.S. and go somewhere without said freedoms.

      • Hank A.

        What about other people’s freedom to walk down the walkway on a college campus without having to go way out of their way? I’m not against protesting, but these individuals were blocking a public right of way. They were warned several times of what would happen to them. I don’t feel sorry for the spoiled little brats. They should be in class, not trying to get their faces on the 5 o’clock news.

    • Getta Clue

      Ginger! Ever been to college? There is no law that requires students to attend class. The UC employed police officers committed felony assault with a deadly weapon against those students (California penal code section 245). This is also a TORT (google it) and under THE CONSTITUTION (google it) the students are allowed to sue.

      • Getta Clue

        the bottle of pepper spray is the weapon. a toothpick could qualify as a weapon under 245 if you use it as such.

      • Chris

        YOU ARE AN IDIOT! 245? LEARN TO READ MORON! No weapon! F’n loser!

      • kermit

        a man

    • Jean

      They were warned! They were told if you do not move, you will be pepper sprayed! Too bad they made it all the way to college and still can’t understand the English language.
      Do they really think that they will get sympathy because they “made their voices heard” in an obnoxious and stupid manner? Not from me or any of my taxpaying friends. Since this was David Buscho’s “first demonstration” and he didn’t know police were going to be there – he should have taken a look around and left when he saw them. Or at least FOLLOWED THE POLICE ORDERS!
      Nothing good comes from ignoring the direct order of a cop. And I support them.
      David and his buddies should be expelled. And never let back into the US system because, apparently, they haven’t learned anything in 13+ years of school.

  • disgusted

    HIP HIP hooray we all knew this would happen, good for the ACLU doing something worth while for a change, there needs to be some drastic changes at the upper level at UCD.

  • john

    how come the media won’t play the video prior to the pepper spraying of the protestors? each protestor was clearly told what was going to happen and even acknowledged it. yes, we have the right to protest, but where is the line?

    • Chris

      AMEN….. Not to mention they were chanting to get the police! That IS NOT peaceful!

    • Josh

      Amen! Every last one of the people who were pepper sprayed had more than enough warning and chance to leave. The officers conducted themselves very well given the situation of obvious, willful insubordination. I guess the students would have felt better if the police beat every one of them and dragged them off to jail like they could have.

      • Jonus

        What right did these goon policemen have to tell the students to leave. Exactly what law did the students break?

      • jamie

        I remember reading from a campus interview that ONE of the protesters made a motion to leave, but others in the group grabbed her arm and yanked her back down and refused to let her leave and made her take it with them.

    • policebrutality

      I guess the line is we can petition the government for redress of grievances until the police beat us and spray us with chemical weapons, then the Constitution says we have to stop protesting and go to jail.

  • UC Davis students sue over pepper-spraying of student protesters during Occupy … – Washington Post | News99

    […] CBS Local […]

  • toughnut

    Unfortunately the video only shows part of the story. The students were ORDERED to stop and warned that they would be pepper sprayed. When will these people learn that, yes they have the right to protest, but they must also OBEY the law and when told to disperse, that is what they legally must do. i hope they lose their lawsuit and have to pay for all court costs.

    • Chris

      YOU are an IDIOT! Go back to Syria!

  • VEVOsaywhat

    It’s not against the law to sit on a sidewalk. The full video is available on youtube, nobody is trying to hide it.

    The officers reasoning for pepper spraying them was because they said they felt threatened and unable to leave the area. The video clearly shows officers walking over the students multiple times (exhibiting they were in no danger), with them finally pepper spraying them.

    If any of you think it’s ok for police to pepper spray students sitting down in a line on a campus you’ve clearly been brainwashed by the powers that be, that we MUST obey all orders no matter how absurd or unlawful they are.

  • Matthew David Bennett

    If it weren’t for the students circling the Campus Police and not allowing them to leave, they would not have gotten pepper spray. Actions have consequences.

    • cinderella

      What is the matter with your reasoning, the police did not spray the students circllng them , if they were concerned for their safety they would have sprayed the circlers not the students sitting on the sidewalk, you are right criminal actions by the police have consequences. ACLU lawyers would not take this case unless they were sure they would win. This pepper spraying was way out of line.

    • Joseph

      Yes they were so aggressive with that ‘circling’, you know how scary those thug UCD students can be. I woulda been terrified taking them on with just riot gear and pepper spray. Idiot.

      • Jonus

        The students who were sitting across the sidewalk were the ones that got sprayed so I guess they were scooting around circling the police. Sure is amazing how theydid that. The video I seen along probably a million other people showed the students who were sitting down getting sprayed by that sorry excuse for a human being.

  • Lee

    As someone who has been pepper sprayed several times I will be the first to point out that OC is not lethal force. Shooting them or hittlng them with batons would have been, but not pepper spray. OC is an option on the Force Continuum, but is far from lethal.

    I also find it funny that the media only shows the actually spraying incident and not the events that lead up to it. Pretty typical of a media that relies on controversy and sensationalism to be relevant and make money.

    I agree that the police need more training, but they followed orders, unlike the protestors; however wrong you believe those orders to be.

  • Micheal Jones

    Only the students on the sidewalk were pepper sprayed. They were blocking the sidewalk. That was against the campus rules. You break the rules, there will be consequences. There was al least a half an hour of warnings prior to the spraying. I think I should sue the students. I am sure the UCD Police worked overtime. I am a taxpayer, I had to pay for that overtime.

  • Micheal Jones

    Hey, students, you complain about the cost of school. So what do you do, sue the school for monetary and compensatory damages. Gee, guess what, your tuition just went up. And to the one guy who said this was my first protest, wake up and smell the pepper spray. Protests have a history of not going well for the protester. Pick a country, pick a protest. Other countries, protesters end up being killed. Count your blessings that you are still alive and live here in the United States. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is sure better than any other place.

  • jennifer

    Wow, the school must be keeping this low-key if I didn’t find out about this in the campus newspaper, but through an outside source.

  • Jeff


    Watch the full video – They clearly were in the wrong and got what they deserved.
    I’m still waiting for all the media to put it up on front page news outlets, but they don’t like being wrong so they won’t.

  • Chris

    The kids got what they deserved for breaking the law for obstructing police

    Full Video

  • redneckwriter

    And this is why I no longer support the ACLU.

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