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Pepper spray lawsuit settled

CALIFORNIA – University officials in California have agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit over a pepper-spraying incident last year that came to symbolize law enforcement aggression against anti-Wall Street protesters, court papers filed on Wednesday showed.

Video of the confrontation, which showed seated student protesters being pepper-sprayed by campus police at the University of California campus at Davis, was played widely on television and the Internet, sparking outrage among faculty and activists.

Under the terms of the settlement, each of the 21 students and recent graduates from the campus who sued University of California regents over the November 2011 incident will receive a $30,000 payment and a personal apology from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.

The deal also includes $250,000 in costs for plaintiffs’ attorney fees. The plaintiffs were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

“I want the university and the police to understand what they did wrong. Police should be accountable to students,” UC Davis undergraduate Ian Lee said in a statement.

The pepper spray incident thrust the normally quiet campus to the forefront of national anti-Wall Street protests.

In April, a scathing, 190-page report on the UC Davis confrontation criticised officers for using pepper spray to break up a peaceful demonstration and accused school administrators of bungling decisions at nearly every point leading to the incident.

The district attorney’s office said last week that officers involved in the incident will not face criminal charges. (Reuters)

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