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UC attorneys to argue for release of task force report on pepper spraying incident

Occupy UC Davis Protests Police Pepper Spray Incident

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

DAVIS, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Occupy protestor hold signs during a demonstration at the UC Davis campus on November 21, 2011 in Davis, California. Thousands of Occupy protestors staged a demonstration on the UC Davis campus to protest the UC Davis police who pepper sprayed students who sat passively with their arms locked during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration on November 18. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

University of California attorneys will be back in court Friday to argue for the public release of a task force report into the pepper spraying of peaceful protesters by UC Davis campus police in November.

The report, ordered by UC President Mark Yudof at the request of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, was to be released March 6. However, the release was put on hold when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo granted attorneys representing the campus police union and specific officers involved in the incident a temporary restraining order.

The court will determine at Friday's preliminary injunction hearing whether the hold on the release remains in place pending a trial on the matter, said attorney Mike McGill, who represents officers involved in the case and is general counsel for the Federated University Police Officers Association.

"This investigation that they've done, as a matter of law, is confidential," McGill said. "Any investigation that's on peace officers based on complaints and the investigation of complaints is protected under the penal code as confidential, and can't be released to the public."

The report provides details from an investigation into the November incident by a task force headed by former California Supreme Court Associate Justice Cruz Reynoso. The hold also prevents the disclosure of an accompanying report from an independent inquiry into the incident by Kroll, a New York-based investigative firm chaired by former LAPD chief William Bratton. The Kroll report is included in the appendix in the task force report.

In a court brief filed March 13, UC attorneys outline the November events and argue that the task force and Kroll reports were conducted separately from the university's internal affairs investigation, that the report does not include personnel records or discuss discipline, and is "informational and advisory."

The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday in Alameda County Superior Court in downtown Oakland, according to a UC release.

Both UC President Mark Yudof and Reynoso have said they remain committed to doing everything they can to make the reports public.

UPDATE: 

McGill said the university doesn't have any legal support for their position and that it cannot use another term for their investigation to "circumvent confidentiality laws."

In their court brief arguing in support of a preliminary injunction, the union's attorneys write:

"But can the UC — the employer of the peace officers — commission the Kroll report along with the Task Force report commenting on the Kroll report, which interviews the same people, analyzes the same exact conduct, of the same exact peace officers, of the same exact event as the admittedly confidential Internal Affairs investigation, and make it public simply because it is called something else and has a slightly different, nuanced purpose? Of course, not."

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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