A Santa Monica College police officer broke policy last year when he used pepper spray on demonstrators trying to enter a board of trustees meeting where officials were set to discuss a controversial tiered payment program, according to an independent review released on Friday.
The report found that although most campus officers acted with restraint, the use of pepper spray and a raised baton by one officer was inappropriate and did not comply with policy.
Police did not order students to disperse before using the pepper spray, the Los Angeles Times reports, adding that the probe found students did understand the limits of free-speech rights.
Some 200 students were involved in the April demonstration, and about 30 people were treated for pepper spray, authorities said at the time. Campus officials said at the time the students’ attempts to get into the boardroom "was a safety issue."
The melee was exacerbated by inadequate planning by campus police and pushing and grabbing by some student demonstrators voicing their anger over a proposed fee plan that would raise prices on in-demand courses, according to the LA Times.
The report listed 13 recommendations, including better planning before large gatherings and increased training of campus police.
This YouTube video shows students at Santa Monica College being pepper-sprayed after storming a Board of Trustees meeting.