SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California reached a proposed settlement Thursday with UC Davis students and alumni who were hit with during a campus protest last November.
The UC Regents approved the settlement during a closed session as neither the University’s lawyers nor the lawyers for the Davis students and alumni would comment on details of the settlement agreement which still needs a federal judge’s approval.
Regent Leslie Tang Schilling told the Los Angeles Times Thursday that the regents decided to settle the case because the UC system needs to move past the controversy and focus on pressing budgetary concerns.
A lawsuit was filed in February by 21 current and former students who were pepper-sprayed during the Nov. 18 Occupy-related demonstrations.
The incident has already cost the university system plenty of money, including $445,879 to an independent consulting group that conducted an independent review of the pepper-spraying.
The officers captured on a widely-viewed video spraying the seated students in their faces at close range are no longer with the campus police department.
The funds for the settlement will come from UC’s self-insurance program, which has about $600 million in reserves, officials said.
The settlement comes on the same day a UC report recommended that a university Chancellor or a designee should make any final decisions when police are contemplating use of force during campus protests.
The report said that an administrator must be on-site during protests that may get heated and be in “real-time communication” with the Chancellor or designee making the decision on whether to use force depending on the situation.
The report also recommends that police should give warnings before applying use of force options that may pose health risks, such as pepper spray for pregnant women or those with asthma. Police should then allow people sufficient time to leave following the warnings.
They are among 49 recommendations in a final report that comes after criticism of the force police used during protests last year. The report is designed to help guide the 10-campus system’s future responses to protests.
“Although this project was borne out of controversy and turmoil, our interviews and meetings with stakeholders confirmed that there is a genuine and earnest desire in all quarters to work collaboratively, to promote and protect First Amendment rights,” the report said.
Additionally, the report calls for a more measured response relying on more discussion at the beginning of a possible dispute in an effort to avoid the need for police.
The report also recommends better training for officers.