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Court documents give some details on UC pepper spray investigation

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Some more details on the University of California's task force investigation into the pepper spraying of peaceful protesters by UC Davis police are contained in the court documents filed Tuesday by the system.

Attorneys representing the UC system and the campus police union will be in an Oakland courtroom Friday for a hearing on whether a court hold on the public release of reports into the November incident will remain in place.

A task force report was ordered by UC President Mark Yudof at the request of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. An independent inquiry was also performed, and a report generated from that, by the consulting firm Kroll.

According to the university system's court filing, the task force was told to receive and review Kroll's report; then based on that review and other available information issue findings regarding "responsibility for the events"; and finally, provide recommendations on improvements to "police procedures, command protocols, and campus policies and oversight structures that will help ensure the rights and safety of non-violent protesters and the entire campus community are protected."

The Kroll investigation detailed facts and circumstances that led to the confrontation between campus police and Occupy protesters in November.

The UC system's court filing states:

"The actual use of pepper spray was only one of the many issues investigated by Kroll. The investigation also included the occupation of the campus administration building (Mrak Hall) on Tuesday, November 15 by protesters and the manner in which that was handled by campus administrators; various conference calls held by campus administrators to discuss issues relating to the tents on the quad; and decisions made by members of the administration regarding removal of tents erected by protesters."

UC said the reports are separate from the internal affairs investigation and do not fall within the legal bounds of what is required to remain confidential for peace officers. In the court filing, the system compares its task force report with the "Christopher Commission Report" conducted after the publicized beating of Rodney King.

Attorney Mike McGill, who represents officers involved in the case and is general counsel for the Federated University Police Officers Association, said it doesn't matter what the university calls the investigation, the information gathered cannot be publicized.

"References to the sworn peace officers and their conduct on that day is what is protected by state law and should remain confidential," McGill said.

The union isn't concerned with the release of findings regarding other issues the University of California had the task force and Kroll review, McGill said.

"If there's information outside of what I just described, then it’s not going to be subject to the confidentiality statute and should not be withheld," McGill said.

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

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