Officer fired for pepper spraying students awarded $38,000 over viral video
DAVIS, Calif. — You might not know John Pike by name, but you’d likely recognize him from the video that made him famous — or more accurately, infamous.
Now widely known as the “pepper spray cop,” thanks to the viral video that earned him his notoriety, the former UC Davis police officer was filmed casually firing off pepper spray at close range into the faces of seated protesters during a November 18, 2011, Occupy rally on the northern California school’s campus.
Pike lost his job over the incident, but he’s now being awarded more than $38,000 as a result of it.
An administrative law judge ruled last week that the University of California must pay Pike $38,055.79 in workers’ compensation for the depression and anxiety he suffered as a result of the video’s popularity.
The 40-year-old was ridiculed on websites around the world and became the unwilling star of the “Pepper Spray Cop” meme, which included countless Photoshopped images of a helmeted Pike nonchalantly pepper-spraying everything from the United States Constitution to Paul McCartney crossing Abbey Road.
In his filing seeking workers’ compensation, Pike said he had even received death threats. A psychiatrist who evaluated him as part of the case rated Pike’s disability as “moderate,” adding that the former police officer was dealing with “continuing and significant internal and external stress with respect to resolving and solving the significant emotional upheavals that have occurred,” according to the Davis Enterprise.
UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said the case was “resolved in accordance with state law and processes on worker’s compensation.
“The final resolution is in line with permanent impairment as calculated by the State’s Disability Evaluation Unit,” he added in a statement e-mailed to HLN.
Pike’s compensation is about $8,000 more than the amount received by the protesters he sprayed. Twenty-one plaintiffs won $30,000 each as part of a civil lawsuit brought against the University of California, which was settled last year.
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