Iraq war vet critically injured during 'Occupy Oakland'

(Photo by Jay Finneburgh)
October 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The most severely injured demonstrator from Tuesday night's 'Occupy Oakland' protests is in critical condition. Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was hit in the head by a projectile.

Olsen, 24, was injured while marching in Oakland Tuesday night. His roommate tells ABC7 Olsen has a two inch skull fracture in the area of his left forehead and doctors at Highland Hospital are deciding if surgery is necessary.

It is unclear if Olsen was injured by a rubber bullet or a tear gas or smoke canister. Video footage of Tuesday's protests does appear to show police throwing a possible tear gas canister into the crowd that rushed to help Olsen after he was already on the ground.

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan says the investigation into Olsen's injury will be treated as a level-one incident in which an officer used lethal force. It is a higher level investigation that involves the internal affairs division, the district attorney's office and the Office of the Inspector General.

"It's at the top of our list and we are gathering footage and investigating whether or not it was justified," Jordan said.

Doctors told Olsen's roommate Keith Shannon that he was conscious when he arrived at the hospital but was unable to answer more than yes or no to questions.

"It's really sad and it makes me angry that he was in Iraq without any injuries and then to come here and be shot by the same people that were supposed to be protecting him instead of shooting him," Shannon said.

Olsen is a Wisconsin native who moved to the Bay Area last summer for a systems administrator job. He had spent much of the last two weeks camping overnight with the 'Occupy SF' movement and came to Oakland in support of 'Occupy Oakland.'

"The guy fights for his country, comes here to protest peacefully and then gets injured in that way, hes' got a fracture, he's in the hospital, he's in serious condition with no way of knowing exactly when he's going to recover or what condition he's going to be in, it's horrible," Iraq Veterans Against the War spokesperson Jason Matherne said.

Shannon, who served with Olsen in Iraq, says Olsen is on a respirator and is heavily sedated. Olsen's are expected to arrive from Wisconsin Thursday morning.

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