Friday, March 21, 2014

Occupy! Veteran Scott Olsen, injured during protest, wins $4.5 M settlement against Oakland

Scott Olsen, on the ground, October 25, 2011, after being shot in the head with bean-bag 
Scott Olsen, on the ground, October 25, 2011, 
after being shot in the head with bean-bag

The suit was filed for injuries sustained after a city police officer shot him in the head with a beanbag ( shotgun-fired beanbag consisting of lead birdshot wrapped in cloth) during the protest, nearly killing him and leaving him with permanent brain damage.

Video taken of the incident, October 25, 2011:

According to SF Gate:

Scott Olsen, 26, was among more than 1,000 demonstrators protesting the police clearing of an Occupy Oakland encampment outside City Hall when he was struck by the beanbag Oct. 25, 2011. Widely-viewed images of him falling in the street, and being carried away while bloodied, ignited outrage and sparked further protests.

At a news conference, Friday, not far from where he was injured at 14th Street and Broadway, Olsen said he never expected to return from service as a Marine in the Middle East, only be injured by police in downtown Oakland.

"I guess I thought that I wasn't in Iraq anymore, you know, I'd be more or less safe," Olsen said. "I wasn't going to get shot. I wasn't going to be attacked. Oakland police proved me wrong in that, and it makes me feel less safe in general, especially around people who are supposed to be protecting you. I don't feel safe at all around police."

Olsen said he is still being treated for his head injury and hasn't been actively working. "I didn't win part of my brain back that's dead," he said. "It's hard. It was a hard recovery process."
Oakland was the site of one of the larger actions and occupations ( Frank H. Ogawa Plaza renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by Occupy in honor of the victim of a 2009 shooting by Bay Area Rapid Transit Police) during the Summer and Fall of 2011. Oakland saw marches with numbers swelling to 20,000-30,000 (November 2 General Strike) with some estimates of 100,000 and gained national attention by the degree of ineptitude and violence on the part of the City's Mayor Jean Quan and its police force.

The October 25 action started as an attempt by police to clear Oscar Grant Plaza. The protesters numbered to 2500-3000 as the police came in to tear down the camp. The Revolution was social media-ized as were all the Occupations and Actions by Occupy around the planet.

According to Twitter feeds from protesters and reporters on the ground, the police came in with armored vehicles, humvees, flash grenades, rubber bullets and hostility.


Scott Olsen was shot, close range, and hit. As he lay on the ground and protesters tried to reach him, police shot a “flashbang” grenade into the group as they tried to tend to Scott's wounds.

According to East Bay Express:
Olsen, who is now 26 years old and has permanent brain damage, was struck in the head by a shotgun-fired beanbag that consisted of lead birdshot wrapped in cloth. At the time, he was standing about 15 feet from police barricades at 14th Street and Broadway. The firing of the beanbag round was a blatant violation of OPD's own crowd control policy. Then, while Olsen lay on the ground, an Oakland cop lobbed a “flashbang” grenade into a crowd of people who had rushed in to help the wounded veteran. Video of a dazed and bleeding Olsen being carried to safety by fellow demonstrators went around the world within hours. 
Occupy Oakland retook the plaza the following day and led a demonstration of thousands that shut down the Port of Oakland on November 2, 2011. 
In 2012, this reporter and independent investigator Jacob Crawford identified Robert Roche as the Oakland police officer who lobbed the CS “flashbang” grenade” toward a prone Olsen and the group of people who rushed to his aid (Full disclosure: Jacob Crawford worked as an investigator for Olsen's attorneys Jim Chanin and Rachel Lederman in this case. This reporter was not involved in the lawsuit). OPD fired Roche for his actions, but he is challenging the termination in arbitration. The Oakland police officer who shot Olsen has still not been identified, according to court documents.

And from Democracy Now!

Justice for Scott Olsen was found today; justice for thousands more still to be attained.

And as for Occupy? OCCUPY still Lives!

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