UC Davis police chief, officers on leave after pepper spray incident

Around 4 p.m. on Friday, UC Davis campus police tore down tents and arrested students. / nicomachus (Flickr)

It was the sting felt around the world when witnesses uploaded a video of Occupy UC Davis students being pepper sprayed at point blank range.

With national attention only egging on the tension between University of California students and the campus police, Chief Annette Spicuzza and the two officers filmed spraying students have taken administrative leave to restore trust after the incident.

The university's chancellor, Linda Katehi, assembled a board of faculty and students to determine how to move forward.

"Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history," UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement Sunday. "It is a value we must protect with vigilance."

Police say they warned students that force would be used to clear out the Occupy protesters and tents if necessary. The video shows the students sitting in front of police with arms linked, refusing to move, but not confronting the police. One officer takes out a large pepper spray can and begins walking down the line, spraying students in the face. Witnesses cried in horror, "Shame on you!"

Spicuzza told the AP that the officers involved in the incident were identified during an intense review of several videos and put on administrative leave. She said both officers knew the department policy on pepper spray and had been sprayed with it themselves during training.

"We really wanted to be diligent in our research, and during our viewing of multiple videos we discovered the second officer," Spicuzza said. "This is the right thing to do."

Do you think the police's warning justified pepper spraying peaceful protesters? How should the campus handle the situation? Should the police chief and officers be fired? Weigh in below and on Facebook .

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)