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Report: UC Davis pepper-spray incident "should and could have been prevented"

(CBS/AP) SAN FRANCISCO - A University of California task force says the pepper-spraying of student protesters by UC Davis police should and could have been prevented.

That conclusion was contained in a report released Wednesday on the Nov. 18 crackdown on students who had set up an Occupy Wall Street camp on campus.

The officers' decision to douse pepper-spray on a seated line of protesters was "objectively unreasonable" and not authorized by campus policy, according to the report by a UC Davis task force created to investigate the incident.

The university published the document online a day after a judge approved its publication without the names of most officers involved in the clash.

Officers involved in the incident said they felt they needed to use pepper spray because they believed they were surrounded by a hostile crowd, but the investigation suggested that was not the case, according to the report.

The task force also attributed the response to breakdowns in the campus chain of command, from Chancellor Linda Katehi to police Chief Annette Spicuzza to Lt. John Pike, the main officer shown in widely viewed online videos of the incident.

The report said Pike, who was not interviewed by task force investigators, used a pepper-spray canister that was larger than the one campus police officers are authorized and trained to use.

The task force blamed the chancellor for not clearly communicating to her subordinates that police should avoid physical force on the protesters. It also said she was responsible for the decision to deploy police on a Friday afternoon, rather than wait until early morning as the police chief wanted.

The pepper-spraying prompted national outrage, campus protests and calls for the chancellor's resignation after online videos of the confrontation went viral.

More on Crimesider:
November 22, 2011 - UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi apologizes for pepper spray incident
November 21, 2011 - Pepper spray fallout: UC Davis campus police chief placed on leave following incident

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