If someone put you on the spot and asked you what you thought was the most egregious act of police violence committed outside of the occupation of Wheeler Hall on November 20, 2009, chances are pretty high that you would describe a student who had her hand repeatedly smashed by a cop’s baton against a metal barricade, requiring her to get immediate reconstructive surgery and permanently disabling at least one of her fingers. Soon after the attack, this student filed an official grievance with the UCPD’s internal review board. The results were not announced until late June of last year, way past the deadline to file a grievance with the Chancellor’s office. But perhaps “announced” is an overstatement. This student never actually received the letter, below. Instead, UCPD mailed it to her lawyer, who never told her about it, assuming he was mailed a duplicate copy; protocol is that the complainant must be mailed a copy.
The results of the internal review?:
the investigation disclosed that the incident occurred, as charged in the allegation, but the act was found to be proper, lawful, and appropriate under the circumstances.
The name of the officer who committed this act was never disclosed. Our comrade now cannot file a further grievance with the Chancellor’s office, as she was never actually mailed the letter, but only learned of it months later by happenstance in an informal conversation with her lawyer.
Smashing a student’s fingers to the point of requiring reconstructive surgery constitutes “proper, lawful, and appropriate”?! Thankfully our comrade has filed suit; we look forward to following these scumbags in court! Here’s the full text of the conclusion letter from the grievance report:
Room 1 Sproul Hall #1199
Berkeley, CALIFORNIA 94720-1199
July 28, 2010
The investigation of the complaint you filed regarding your contact with our officer on November 20, 2009 has been completed. A report has been issued which was reviewed by our Sufficiency Review Board and then approved by the Chief of Police.
Your complaint alleged that the officer used unreasonable force when defending the police barricade line, resulting in a baton strike which you reported caused injury to your hand. The Board reviewed the investigation which revealed that both you and the officer recalled the following: the officer offered several direct warnings to you to remove your hands from the barricades surrounding the protest activity at Wheeler Hall; the officer used his baton to strike the rungs of the barricade as a further warning and told you directly that he was not going to instruct you again to keep your hands off the barricades; When you failed to follow the lawful direction of the officer and again placed your hand on the barricade the officer then struck your hand with his baton.
The Board’s goal was to look at the actions of the officer and determine if they fit within the parameter of reasonableness. The officer clearly communicated several warnings to you with instructions for you to keep your hands off the barricades. In fact, you initially complied with those warnings and temporarily removed your hands from the barricade. It was only after your failure to heed the repeated warnings that the officer increased his level of force from a verbal admonishment to a strike against the rungs of the barricade. When you again returned your hand to the barricade, the officer applied the next level of force by striking you. The Board determined that the officer used a continuum of force that was within reason and within his authority during these circumstances. The Board’s finding of your allegation is exonerated. Per the Board’s guidelines, exonerated means that the investigation disclosed that the incident occurred, as charged in the allegation, but the act was found to be proper, lawful, and appropriate under the circumstances.
The Chancellor’s Office has a Police Review Board designated to review our investigations of citizen complaints if requested to do so by a complainant within thirty days from the date of this letter. If you would like further information on this Board, please contact me or you may call the Board through the Chancellor’s Office at 642-3100.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call me at 642-1296 during regular business hours.
Cc: Chief Celaya
Police Review Board