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Monday, February 26, 2024

Full task force report release postponed for fourth time

According to University of California General Counsel Charles Robinson, the public release of the task force has been postponed beyond the first week of April. The decision, made by California Supreme Court Associate Justice and chair of the pepper spray task force Cruz Reynoso, is the fourth time the report has been postponed.

Robinson emphasized the importance of providing an accurate account of the pepper spraying incident in a press release on Thursday.

“I understand that Justice Reynoso will confer with task force members to reschedule public release of the report,” he said.

Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County Superior Court, who presided over a hearing held March 28 on the release of the task force report regarding the pepper spray incident, ruled in favor of full public disclosure of the reports.

It was also ruled that certain names of involved officers be withheld.

The release stated that Grillo ruled almost entirely in favor of full disclosure of the task force reports.  He chose to impose a stay until April 20 (21 days), giving university police union attorneys an opportunity to prepare an appeal if they choose to. Stays are granted to secure the rights of a party and usually would result in the temporary suspension of the case.

“During that time the task force and university are permitted to release only those parts of the report that the judge previously permitted to be released, plus a few additional sections that police union attorneys agreed to,” Robinson said. “As a result, there still are substantial portions of the Reynoso Task Force and Kroll reports that cannot be released during the 21-day stay.”

Releasing misinformation was also a factor in postponing the reports, resulting in $100,000 spent in crisis communications with various law firms, including Kroll for up to $300 an hour.

Conclusions on certain officers continue to be withheld due to a potentially negative effect on officer discipline and job evaluations. The name Lt. John Pike, the officer who pepper sprayed protesters, will not be withheld as it is already in the public domain. Grillo said that the names of 20 other officers who were involved will be withheld from the report.

Because the Task Force Reports is a policy-level document, Grillo said that it will mainly focus on the methods to improve police involvement in future protests as opposed to specific actions of officers.

Recent events continue to be compared to the 2009 protests against tuition increases at UC Los Angeles. Chancellor Gene Block started an independent panel to investigate clashes between student protesters and university police. Thirteen months after the protests, in December 2010, Block released investigation findings. The primary conclusion of the report was that there was “no persuasive evidence of excessive uses of force or other overreactions by the police.”

The Task Force Reports will include whether excessive force was used on protesters and a system-wide examination of how other UC campuses handle nonviolent protests.

“We are moving forward to identify what needs to be done to ensure the safety of students and others who engage in non-violent protests on UC campuses,” Yudof said.

Former California Supreme Court Associate Justice and head of the pepper spray task force Cruz Reynoso announced March 5 to task force members that the union representing the UC campus police (Federated University Police Officers Association) elected to obtain a temporary restraining order on the release of the task force report, discounting the original March 6 release date.

UC president Mark Yudof has said that he is disappointed that the release of the report has been delayed.

“The work of the Reynoso Task Force, supported by outside investigators from the Kroll group is a fundamental stepping stone needed to carry the UC Davis campus past the events of Friday, Nov. 18. The entire UC Davis community deserves a fully transparent and unexpurgated accounting of the incidents in question,” Yudof said.

Both Reynoso and Yudof have said they are committed to releasing the full report, as opposed to releasing portions in a piecemeal fashion.

MUNA SADEK can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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