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Cop in pepper spray case sues for workers' compensation

A police officer at the University of California-Davis is seeking worker's compensation for his role in the pepper-spraying of "Occupy Wall Street" activists at the university, claiming that he suffered psychiatric damage as a result of the incident. The officer has set up a conference in Sacramento with the State Department of Industrial Relations to discuss his workers' compensation claim.

The officer's action sparked international outrage, and he was fired by the university after it determined that his actions were unwarranted. The officer alleged that his name was released by the press, and this caused him to receive death threats after a video of him pepper spraying the activists went viral and sparked outrage. These threats allegedly led to a judge blocking the release of the names of other police officers involved. The police union declined to comment on the officer's lawsuit.

Police officers are some of the most frequent beneficiaries of worker's compensation benefits, due to the often dangerous nature of their work. In dealing with violent criminals, high speed chases and other hazardous situations, these men and women put their lives on the line, so they are obviously due to receive compensation when they are severely injured and unable to resume their duties.

This case reveals that worker's compensation is not always a clear cut issue. In this particular case, the officer did not receive any physical harm from his actions, but was arguably harmed by a video of him reacting to protestors squatting on university lands being released, as well as the release of his name. The man's inability to work was caused by disciplinary actions when it was determined that his actions were out of bounds, so it is not clear whether or not the officer is entitled to worker's compensation.

Any worker who is injured or takes ill on the job is entitled to receive worker's compensation benefits in order to provide for themselves and their families. These benefits help spare the worker the costs of litigation for negligence, and provide the employer with the opportunity to avoid costly liability. Worker's compensation benefits are a help for all, and they provide an injured or ill worker with a livelihood during difficult times.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Former UC Davis cop in pepper-spraying case wants workers comp.," Larry Gordon, July 26, 2013

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