Campus Cop Receives Workers Comp for Occupy Pepper Spray Incident

pepper sprayNotorious UC Davis Campus Cop Gets Workers Comp for Mental Damages Due to Occupy Protest Pepper Spray Incident

The infamous former campus police officer, whose photo pepper spraying Occupy protestors in 2011 went viral on the internet, has been awarded $38,000 workers comp in a settlement agreement with the University of California, Davis campus.

John Pike, 40 years old of Roseville, reported suffered mental and emotional damages related to the pepper spray incident, including depression and anxiety brought on by death threats sent to him and his family after the November 18th, 2011 incident.

In the aftermath of the pepper spray incident, the University of California agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the demonstrators. Reportedly, after this recent workers comp settlement, Pike will receive more money than the students he pepper sprayed.

Bernie Goldsmith, a Davis lawyer supportive of the protesters, said that the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”

“This case has been resolved in accordance with state law and processes on workers’ compensation,” UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said in an email message. The workers comp settlement was determined on October 16th, by Administrative Law Judge Harter.

Pike faced “continuing and significant internal and external stress with respect to resolving and solving the significant emotional upheavals that have occurred” in his life and had not shown evidence of substantial improvement, concluded Richard Lieberman, a Piedmont psychiatrist acting as the agreed-upon expert, who spoke with Pike twice in 2012.

Videos of Pike and another officer casually pepper spraying students, who calmly sat in protest, went viral online. The videos sparked outrage not only in UC Davis leaders, but across the internet and throughout the Occupy movement. Pike’s image became a meme, and his personal information was leaked by hackers. He received so many death threats after his information was publically posted that a judge in Alameda County Court ruled against releasing the names of other police officers involved in the scene.

Work-Related Stress and Workers Comp

When most people think of workers compensation, they think of financial support for a worker who sustained a physical injury. Miners, cleaners, and builders often file for workers compensation for on-the-job physical injury. However, mental and emotional stress can also be cause to file a workers compensation claim. Mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety can be triggered by severe trauma at work, such as violent assault or armed robbery. Post-traumatic stress disorder can be so disabling that a worker may not be able to return to work for several months.

Any full-time employee (working for an employer with four or more employees) who has an employment related injury and needs medical attention, including psychiatric attention should be covered under workers comp insurance.

The employee MUST notify his or her employer within 90 days of the injury or risk losing the right to benefits under workers compensation. (It is recommended that you record details of your accident and to whom you reported it.)

Workers’ comp insurance benefits to assist the injured employee include:

  • Medical treatment and other medical expenses (gas mileage, public transportation costs)
  • Lost wages: 2/3 of an employee’s wages will be paid out after a seven-day waiting period
  • Compensation for a permanent loss: blindness, loss of limb
  • Death benefits to spouse and dependents

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Workers Comp Claims for Mental or Emotional Stress

The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. Receiving benefits for work related stress can be difficult.  You need an attorney who will fight with you to the end. Give us a call today 803.252.4800 for a free workers comp case review.