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“Pepper spray is designed to protect people from a violent attack, to stop somebody from doing something,” said Wheaton, senior counsel for the Oakland-based First Amendment Project.

UC Davis police used “it as a torture device to force someone to do something, and that’s exactly what the 9th Circuit said was unreasonable and excessive.”

Associated Press writer Nigel Duara in Portland, Ore., as well as Judy Lin and video journalist Haven Daley in Davis, Calif., contributed to this report.