Beanbag hit Occupy protester, not gas canister

(Photo by Jay Finneburgh)
March 15, 2012 6:28:38 PM PDT
A war veteran who was hurt during an Occupy Oakland protest says it was no accident. Scott Olsen's lawyer says it was a beanbag fired by police -- not a wayward tear gas canister -- that fractured Olsen's skull. The lawyer says that proves intent.

Olsen was critically hurt last October at 14th and Broadway. It appeared at the time to be an accident, but now, Olsen and his attorney say they have evidence Olsen was targeted, which they believe will bolster their lawsuit against the city.

Olsen remembers almost everything about the night he was hit in the head by a projectile fired by police during an Occupy Oakland demonstration. Now, the Iraq War veteran says he finally knows what hit him-- a beanbag.

"It's really troubling because these are objects that are meant to be fired directly at somebody and harm them," Olsen said.

Olsen's attorney claims Oakland police have tested the hat Olsen was wearing when he was hit and have confirmed through an email that it was a bean bag, not a tear gas canister as originally thought.

"This bean bag munition tells me that this officer that fired it intended to hit Scott," Olsen's attorney Mark Martel said.

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan would not confirm it was a bean bag that hit Olsen or whether it was fired by an Oakland officer or one from another department dispatched to Oakland as part of mutual aid.

'When those facts are known to us and there comes a point when we can discuss that with the public then I'll be happy to discuss that but at this point, all those investigations related to occupy are personnel investigations, some of them are criminal investigations and we're not in a position to comment at this point," Jordan said.

Olsen still has some neurological problems related to the injury, including difficulty speaking. He says he doesn't want anyone else to have the same outcome.

"I want to see justice not only for me but for the community," he said. "OPD and police stations around the country need to learn their lesson that this is not acceptable behavior."

Olsen and his attorney confirmed they will be filing a lawsuit against the city and its police department for significant monetary damages.


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