Occupy protester wounded by Oakland police gets $4.5 million

Scott Olsen

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011, Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen lies on the ground bleeding from a head wound after being struck by a by a projectile during an Occupy Wall Street protest in Oakland,Calif. Olsen suffered a fractured skull while marching with other protesters attempting to reestablish a presence in the area of the disbanded camp, said Dottie Guy, of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Police Chief Howard Jordan says an internal reviewboard and local prosecutors have been asked to determine if officers on the scene used excessive force. Photo: Jay Finneburgh, AP

“Occupy protester wounded by Oakland police gets $4.5 million” by Henry K. Lee (via San Francisco Chronicle)

22 March 2014 Via: Mike Zonta OccuNews

Oakland agreed to pay an Iraq War veteran $4.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit he filed after a city police officer shot him in the head with a beanbag during an Occupy protest, nearly killing him and leaving him with permanent brain damage, attorneys said Friday.

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 on Oct. 25, 2011. Widely viewed images of him falling in the street and being carried away while bloodied ignited outrage and sparked further protests.

The payout is the latest in a series of settlements by the city involving mass protests. It comes as Oakland police continue to grapple with how to balance the free-speech rights of activists with a desire to maintain order amid large, often unruly crowds.

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 to 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.”

Olsen said he is still being treated for his head injury. “I didn’t win part of my brain back that’s dead,” he said. “It’s hard. It was a hard recovery process.”

‘A tragic injury’
One of Olsen’s attorneys, Jim Chanin, said the incident was sad not only for his client but for Oakland, “which has been hit with yet another unnecessary lawsuit with a very large settlement that could have been used for the public good while Scott went on with his life, without his injury.”

City Attorney Barbara Parker said Oakland will pay Olsen $1.4 million and the city’s insurance carrier will pay the balance.

“Mr. Olsen suffered a tragic injury that will affect him for the rest of his life,” Parker said. “This settlement will save the city the far greater costs of a trial and potentially much higher judgment. This is a fair settlement given the facts of the case and the significant injuries Mr. Olsen sustained.”

Olsen was hospitalized after he was struck by a flexible baton round – commonly known as a beanbag. The city described the object as a “cloth-enclosed, lead-filled round fired from a shotgun.”

According to Olsen’s suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the impact “fractured Mr. Olsen’s skull and caused severe hemorrhaging of his brain.”

The lawsuit did not identify the officer who fired the beanbag, and the city has not identified the officer. But the suit said that after Olsen was struck and was lying on the ground, Oakland police Officer Robert Roche lobbed a tear-gas canister into a group trying to help Olsen, an incident that was captured by a TV news camera.

Oakland police moved to fire Roche after the incident. Roche, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who has been involved in three fatal shootings in the city, is fighting his termination, sources said.

Roche didn’t know that Olsen was on the ground when he lobbed the tear-gas canister at the group around him, Roche’s attorney, Justin Buffington, said Friday.

Officer seen as scapegoat
Buffington said Roche was being made a scapegoat after the city suffered “international embarrassment.” Buffington said his client was “the soap the OPD commanders used to wash themselves clean of their mistakes.”

Olsen avoided criticizing Roche directly Friday, saying, “People have different backgrounds, and we share in common that we’re veterans, but there are a lot of other factors at play. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but I’m sure we all do things that we regret.”

Rachel Lederman, Olsen’s other attorney, said police had been “incapable” of abiding by city crowd-control policies that prohibit deploying weapons such as beanbags into crowds and mandate that officers give protesters a chance to disperse before mass arrests.

The fact that police did not try to aid Olsen after he fell has also been criticized. In a report on the events, Thomas Frazier, who was then a city-commissioned consultant, wrote that he found it “unsettling and not believable” that no officer saw Olsen falling down or lying in the street.

Quan cites improvements
In a statement Friday, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said the department had reformed its crowd-control policies in response to Frazier’s report.

“We regret that Mr. Olsen suffered these injuries and hardships,” Quan said, “and I want Oakland to know that because of that evening’s events we took determined, constructive steps to change our policing procedures.”

Olsen joined the Marines in 2006, served two tours in Iraq and was discharged in 2010, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which he was a member. He was a systems administrator at a San Francisco software firm when he was injured.

Olsen’s payout follows several other settlements of lawsuits alleging that police officers used unreasonable force during Oakland protests, with many of the incidents caught on video. In one case, the city paid Army veteran Kayvan Sabeghi $645,000 to settle a suit alleging he was clubbed by police during an Occupy protest on Nov. 2, 2011.

The city agreed to pay $1.17 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a dozen protesters who say they were victims of excessive force on the same day Olsen was shot. A separate $1 million payout went to 150 people who accused police of mishandling their arrests during a 2009 protest in Oakland over the BART police shooting of Oscar Grant.

Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: hlee@sfchronicle.com
Twitter: @henryklee




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2 comments on “Occupy protester wounded by Oakland police gets $4.5 million
  1. RonMamita says:

    Putin Calls for Creation of [Russian Federation] Banking Payment System

    Posted 27 March 2014

    Putin Backs National Card Payment System

    MOSCOW–President Vladimir Putin Thursday backed plans for Russia to create its own national payment system to protect itself against the kind of disruption caused when Visa and MasterCard cut ties with Russian banks hit by U.S. sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.

    Russia has floated developing such a system for years although few steps have ever been taken. But the idea resurfaced after the international payment providers stopped servicing four banks last week when Russia came up against a broader round of sanctions.

    Thursday marked the first time the idea received presidential backing. “Why do we not do this? This definitely should be done and we will do this,” Mr. Putin said in a meeting with members of Russia’s upper house of parliament. “We need to protect our interests, and we will do it.”

    He pointed to similar national systems in Asia which he said should be used as models for creating Russia’s own network.

    “These systems work, and work very successfully in such countries as Japan and China. They originally started as exclusively national [systems] confined to their own market and territory and their own population, but have gradually become more and more popular,” he said, noting that Japan’s JCB system is now accepted in nearly 200 countries.

    Valentina Matvienko, the upper house’s speaker and herself a target of western sanctions, said sanctions made it clear Russia had to be prepared to rely more on its own resources.

    “It seems to me that this should make us mobilize to rely on our own resources first and to increase the efficiency of our economy,” she said.

    Analysts said Mr. Putin’s sudden attention to the project suggested he viewed the possibility of broader sanctions as a real threat that needed to be minimized.

    “The threat of further sanctions gives it a bit more urgency and I expect as long as that threat is in place, the government will look at it more seriously,” said Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro-Advisory Ltd. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction and the system is mush less optimal than being part of the global economic system but he views Russia being vulnerable to foreign systems as a potential strategic weakness.”

    On Friday, Visa and MasterCard cut off service to four Russia banks: Bank Rossiya, which was directly named on the U.S. sanctions list; its subsidiary Sobinbank; and SMP Bank and a subsidiary, which are majority owned by two people on the list. Over the weekend service was resumed to SMP and its subsidiary but Bank Rossiya and Sobinbank remain cut off.

    Card holders with accounts at these banks are unable to pay for goods and services using their cards, but can use them to withdraw cash from the bank’s ATMs, or ATMs of other banks, serviced by a national network linking Russian banks.

    SMP Bank said the move caused its customers to withdraw around 9 billion rubles ($252.7 million) in deposits. Russia’s central bank has said it is ready to support any bank that is hit by sanctions. Mr. Putin said he would open an account at Bank Rossiya in response to the sanctions.

    On Thursday, Mr. Putin said the international providers would regret turning their backs on Russian banks.

    “This will simply lead to them losing certain segments of the market, quite a profitable one,” he said.

    Mr. Putin also said Russia should look closely at the threat presented by its own nationalist groups to spark upheaval similar to that which resulted in the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych last month, which Russia has claimed was driven by ultranationalist groups. But he said Russia didn’t need to impose further restrictions on its already stringent rules on public demonstrations.

    “No doubt, we should analyze the events that are taking place around us, ” he told the members of parliament. “Only, I am asking you not to make any decisions that would considerably restrict civil liberties and citizens’ right[s] to express their opinion.”

    Write to Lukas I. Alpert at lukas.alpert@wsj.com and Alexander Kolyandr at Alexander.Kolyandr@wsj.com

    Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

    Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/putin-calls-for-creation-of-banking-payment-system-20140327-00598


  2. RonMamita says:

    Former Deputy Sheriff Reveals Secrets Police Dont Want You To Know

    Posted 3 July 2013


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