A former law enforcement officer with the University of California who used tear gas on protestors settled a case against the school for $38,000 on Oct. 16. The workers’ compensation lawsuit stemmed from an incident when the officer was recorded as he sprayed demonstrators in an on-campus protest in 2011. The 40-year-old man claimed that he went through a period of depression and anxiety after he received death threats following the release of a video of his actions.
The officer went on leave following the incident but was later fired. A subsequent internal investigation found that his actions were appropriate in the situation. The video, which eventually went viral, recorded him in protective garb as he sprayed pepper spray into the seated crowd. People around the world criticized his handling of the situation.
A representative from the university claimed that the workers’ compensation case was appropriately resolved in accordance with state law. The university also paid a $1 million settlement in a separate lawsuit in favor of the demonstrators, including $30,000 per person and $250,000 in legal fees. A lawyer who spoke on behalf of the protestors believes that the workers’ compensation settlement sends the wrong message to other police officers who will think they can handle students aggressively. He fears they will ignore the rights of students and then later receive compensation.
A worker who has suffered physical or emotional injuries as a result of an incident related to the performance of duties may wish to speak to an attorney who has experience in workers’ compensation law. The attorney may be able to determine whether the client is eligible to receive benefits under the statute.
Source: The Guardian, “UC Davis pepper spray police officer awarded $38,000 compensation”, Adam Gabbatt, October 23, 2013