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US college to pay students over pepper spraying

28 september 2012, 11:55
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Local attorney Mark Merin holds up photographs of UC Davis police officers from a November 18, 2011 Occupy demonstration. ©REUTERS/Brian Nguyen
Local attorney Mark Merin holds up photographs of UC Davis police officers from a November 18, 2011 Occupy demonstration. ©REUTERS/Brian Nguyen
A California college has agreed to pay 21 students $30,000 each in compensation for a police pepper spraying incident that sparked a storm last year, AFP reports citing officials.

The campus police chief at the University of California, Davis was placed on administrative leave after the incident last November, in which an officer fired pepper spray into the faces of a row of seated students who were protesting budget cuts and tuition increases and considered themselves part of the Occupy movement.

Following months of legal wrangling over the incident, which was caught on camera, the University of California said a preliminary settlement has been reached.

"This settlement, not yet approved by the court, calls for the University of California to pay $30,000 to each of the 21 named plaintiffs and a total of $250,000 to their attorneys," it said in a statement.

If a judge approves the deal, the university will also provide a maximum of $100,000 to pay up to $20,000 each to individuals who "can prove they were either arrested or directly pepper-sprayed," it added.

Amateur video of the November protest showed an officer in riot gear walking along a line of students seated on the ground, and pepper spraying them in the face apparently for refusing to stand up and leave.

Even assuming a federal judge approves the settlement, it will be at least three months before any payouts are made, possibly longer if there are appeals, the university noted.

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