Injured Occupy Oakland protester and veteran Scott Olsen wins $4.5 million settlement

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Scott Olsen after an officer fired a bean bag at his head, causing brain injury, at an Occupy Oakland protest in 2011.
AP file photo by Jay Finneburgh

Iraq war veteran and injured Occupy Oakland protester Scott Olsen, 26, won a settlement of $4.5 million from the city of Oakland in a federal lawsuit, his attorneys announced today. 

At the tail end of a thousands strong 2011 Occupy Oakland protest, an Oakland Police Department officer fired a beanbag directly into Olsen’s head, causing serious and lasting brain injury. His attorney, Rachel Lederman, said that was why the payout was so high.

“His bones were shattered, part of his brain was destroyed,” she told the Guardian. “He’d been working as a computer system network administrator. He’s not going back to that kind of work, and it compensates him for his wage loss for his lifetime.”

But in the end, she said, “No amount of money can put his head back together.”

Video of the Occupy Oakland protest in 2011, including video shortly after Olsen was injured.

The “beanbag” is more accurately described as a flexible baton round, a press release from the Oakland City Attorney’s office wrote. A flexible baton is a cloth-enclosed, lead-filled round fired from a shotgun.

In an interview with the Political Fail blog shortly after the lawsuit was announced in 2012, Olsen said the lawsuit was about more than himself. 

“We want to hold the police department accountable so we can hopefully prevent police brutality in the future,” he said, speaking slowly. 

Olsen is not the OPD’s only worry. OPD is currently under federal oversight over its questionable actions in incidents like the Riders case, and the mishandling of the Occupy protests. As then-Guardian reporter Yael Chanoff reported in 2012, the OPD’s own Incident Statistics document the extensive use of force the night Scott Olsen was injured.

She wrote “The document describes several types of UOF. On Oct. 25, these included baton (26 uses), chemical agent (21 total uses), non-striking use of baton (19 times), control hold (five), four uses of ‘weaponless defense technique’ and five uses of ‘weaponless defense technique to vulnerable area.’ In four reported instances, police ‘attempted impact weapon strike but missed.’”

Ultimately the City of Oakland will pay only $1.5 million of the $4.5 million settlement, city spokesperson Alex Katz wrote in a press release. The city’s insurance will pay the rest.

City Attorney Barbara Parker said the payout was about justice, but is also about saving Oakland money in the long run.

“This settlement will save the City the far greater costs of a trial and potentially much higher judgment,” she said. “This is a fair settlement given the facts of the case and the significant injuries Mr. Olsen sustained.”

Comments

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

Great story. Can we clone the reporter?

Posted by MPetrelis on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

Freedom ain't free.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 5:19 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

$4.4 million for violating Cherney and Bari's civil rights, $4.5 million for firing a round at a peaceful protester, the problem here is the OPD. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson agrees.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 6:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

"Basic Use of Motorcycle Push"

On paper, they've been forbidden from running people down with vehicles since 2005, but how could the personel of any police organization that would countenance such a concept in the first place resist the temptation after having had a taste of such exhilaration?

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 8:20 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 8:38 pm

immunity from almost all laws.

Oakland got off easy here. Shooting an unarmed, peaceful person expressing his constitutionally protected right to free expression, nearly killing him and permanently damaging his brain deserves criminal prosecution in addition to this settlement.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 8:15 am

We hate the bag guys a lot more than we might hate the cops. And generally if you don't commit crimes and go on protests, the police treat you well.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 8:48 am

so your standard is far too low.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 9:02 am

going on, then you understand that the risks are non-zero.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 9:23 am

Neither did most of the over 7000 people wrongly arrested while the authorities' were violently suppressing the Occupy encampments nationwide.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 9:40 am

So everyone involved was breaking the law.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 10:10 am

So right there, everyone on the protest was breaking the law.

They were asked to leave by the police. So add in insubordination.

And then all the illegal drug use and trading, public health issues, nuisance, petty crime, loitering, begging, harassment etc.

And then resisting arrest and assault, of course.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 11:15 am

Who needs the Geneva Convention when collective punishment is on the agenda?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

doesn't have a law requiring protests to have a license?

Not as far as I know, which means that everyone at Occupy was breaking the law.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 2:27 pm

Turns out that the OPD was breaking the law.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 8:16 pm

had "done nothing wrong". He was taking part in an illegal protest.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

Entire protests cannot be declared illegal by cops. People can be directed to disperse from a specific place. There is no evidence that Olsen did not disperse when ordered.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

Occupy didn't get one therefore everyone taking part was engaging in an illegal act.

Moreover they were told to depart and that they had no right to be there.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 6:24 am

There is a very high bar, as the court has noted, as to where and how law enforcement can declare an area off limits and an assembly illegal.

Clearly it is more important to law enforcement to shoot first and pay questions later. Good thing that the court checks such executive outrage.

Just because you win elections does not give you license to do whatever the fuck you want.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 9:03 am

there is a valid license specifically allowing the activities intended for that location.

If you fail to check that and show up anyway, then you are already "doing something wrong", and therefore you can reasonably expect a police response.

If you then refuse to obey the police when asked to move, you have committed a crime. And if you further resist police officers when they try to physically remove you, then you are in for a whole world of hurt.

Now, the cops may have gone too far in this case. But that doesn't mean that Olsen "did nothing wrong". Sounds like he did a fre things wrong to get himself into the situation where LE needed to use force to move him.

Next time the cops tell you to leave, you can either leave or take the risk. Your choice, and your head.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 9:17 am

Olsen was not charged with a crime. He was attacked by the OPD and the City settled for millions. Those dollars should come out of the individual cops' pockets and they should be fired. Oakland cannot afford such violent, out of control, criminal cops on the payroll.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 7:45 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 9:30 am

Nobody comes out of this looking good

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 9:51 am

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Posted by l i l l i p u b l i c a n s on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 11:05 am

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Posted by l i l l i p u b l i c a n s on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 11:48 am

Can't get a word in edgewise on this board!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

Hi there! I could have sworn I've visited this blog
before but afteer browsing through many of the posts I realized it's nnew to me.
Anyways, I'm certainly delighted I found it aand I'll be book-marking it and checking back often!

Posted by Chinese Pages on Wikipedia on Aug. 10, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

If by not looking good, you mean permanent brain damage due to criminal cop, then you're a twisted little fuck.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 23, 2014 @ 8:44 pm

For things to go badly wrong, it often takes many errors of judgment.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2014 @ 7:11 am

No, for things to go wrong it takes but one corrupt police department and the officers that staff and tolerate that corruption.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 24, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

They ruin everything.

Posted by Chromefields on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 11:26 am

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