Two police officers at the University of California, Davis, have been placed on administrative leave, with pay, after an incident involving peaceful protesters being sprayed with pepper spray.
According to video of the incident posted on YouTube, the two officers walked up and down a line of seated protesters aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement and sprayed them in the face with orange pepper spray. The actions outraged their fellow protesters, outraged human rights activists and has led to calls for their termination as well as the ouster of University of California Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.
So far, Katehi has resisted calls for her to step down.
Jon Shane is assistant professor of criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and was a police officer in Newark, N.J. Shane said, as with many other videos of police actions, this video doesn't tell the whole story.
"We don't know if the police officers had tried to remove the protesters and were met with resistance, or if they deployed the spray without doing anything," he said.
Shane said that we should resist the urge to rush to judgment until the facts become more clear.
According to Shane, who taught Newark police officers about the appropriate use of chemical tools, like pepper spray, it can be appropriate to use pepper spray on a seemingly peaceful crowd if physical attempts to remove them are met with "active resistance."
"If the protesters are just sitting passively and they're not reacting, not resisting, then that's an inappropriate use of pepper spray," he said.
But, with this video, we don't know what happened before the pepper spraying, Shane said.
This could be a time for Americans to review police tactics and the use of force in relation to protests, Shane said. He added that this video could be a good training tool for police officers around the country.