A state appellate court ruled Tuesday that newspapers have a right to learn, and publish, the names of all the
However, the court held that the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee cannot immediately obtain the names, which were redacted from two UC-commisioned reports on the incident. The UC police officers union, which has sought to maintain the confidentiality of the officers, now will decide whether to appeal the matter to the state Supreme Court, the union attorney said.
Following a similar ruling last year by a Superior Court judge in Alameda County, the three-judge appeals court in San Francisco unanimously held that the
The UC system issued two reports on the Nov. 18, 2011, incident which criticized the police actions in general terms. The police union has contended that those reports were a form of citizens' complaints of misconduct against specific officers who deserve confidentiality; the appeals panel rejected that position.
The court also noted that the close-range spraying had been videotaped and widely viewed on the Internet, triggering much national protest.
Thomas Burke, the attorney who represented the newspapers, praised the ruling. "We are delighted not only for the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee but on behalf of the public, particularly when you think about all the public protests these days," he said.
Michael Morguess, attorney for the Federated University Police Officers Assn., said he thought the appeals court too narrowly defined the scope of confidentiality that should be afforded to police personnel records. He said the union "will consider its options" in deciding whether to appeal the case.
If there is an appeal, the names of the officers will remain off-limits during that process.
The identities of two police officers have been publicly revealed since the day the incident occurred: John Pike, the one who is seen on the videos as doing most of the spraying, and then campus-police chief Annette Spicuzza. Both have left the UC force.
Settling a civil lawsuit, the UC system last year agreed to pay damages of $30,000 to each of the 21 UC Davis students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed by campus police during the otherwise peaceful protest.