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Video Showing Officer Pepper-Spraying UC Davis Protesters Prompts Investigation

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A protester at UC Davis is rinsed off after being pepper sprayed by riot police on the school's campus, November 18, 2011.  (CBS)

A protester at UC Davis is rinsed off after being pepper sprayed by riot police on the school’s campus, November 18, 2011. (CBS)

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DAVIS (CBS SF / AP) — The University of California, Davis has launched an investigation in the wake of video showing an officer using pepper spray on a group of protesters who appear to be sitting passively on the ground with their arms interlocked.

The video of the tense standoff between police and Occupy demonstrators at UC Davis shows an officer using pepper spray on a group of protesters who appear to be sitting passively on the ground with their arms interlocked.

In the video—posted on YouTube—was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus.

The officer displays a bottle before spraying its contents on the seated protesters in a sweeping motion. Some members of the scream and cry out. The group chants, “Shame on You,” as the protesters on the ground are led away.

Chancellor Linda Katehi says she’s not resigning as outrage spreads over the cellphone video.

Katehi described the video images as “chilling” and says she’s forming a task force to investigate. The Davis Faculty Association in a letter Saturday said that Katehi should resign, calling her authorization of police force during the Friday protest a “gross failure of leadership.”

During a news conference later Saturday, Katehi said the events surrounding the protest have been hard on her personally, but she has no plans to step down.  She said she is forming a task force made up of faculty, students and staff to review the events surrounding the protests a day earlier. Katehi made the announcement in a message to the campus.

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said that police used the pepper spray after they were surrounded and said protesters were warned beforehand that force would be used if they didn’t move.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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