The riot-clad police officer who pepper sprayed a row of peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters at a California university last week is a retired U.S. Marines sergeant twice honored for his police work on campus.
Lt. John Pike started working for the University of California, Davis police force in 2001. Now, as one of four lieutenants, he supervises more than one-third of the force including the investigations unit.
Pike has been honored twice for meritorious service, including a 2006 incident when he decided against using pepper spray against a patient in the campus hospital who was threatening his colleagues with scissors.
But an alleged anti-gay slur by Pike also figured in a discrimination lawsuit a former police officer filed against the department, which ended in a $240,000 settlement in 2008.
The footage of Pike pepper spraying students has set off a debate about how far law enforcement can and should go to disperse peaceful demonstrators