As if there was any doubt that police departments all across America are rewarding their officers for egregious acts of violence, the Oakland police department has recently promoted two of the police officers involved in the shooting of Occupy activist Scott Olsen.
Olsen, readers may remember, was an Occupy activist and Iraq war veteran who was shot in the head with beanbag bullets by Oakland police in 2011. Olsen was only about fifteen feet away from the officer who shot him, fracturing his skull and sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police also fired flash grenades at activists who rushed to Olsen’s aid and continued to assault the demonstrators as they attempted to drag Olsen to safety and provide him with medical attention. Olsen temporarily lost his ability to speak, perform basic motor functions, and concentrate adequately. While he has recovered the ability to speak, his speech is still slurred and his memory and concentration are still significantly impaired.
Yet despite the fact that the City of Oakland was forced to pay out $4.5 million to Olsen in a settlement, the Oakland Police Department has now promoted two of the cops involved in the shooting.
Even more concerning is the fact that one of the officers, Paul Figueroa, has been promoted to the position of Assistant Police Chief and is now the second in command of the Oakland Police Department.
Roland Holmgren, a Sergeant with a “Tango Team,” a type of Oakland tactical squad consisting of five officers and one sergeant each, was also involved in Olsen’s shooting. Like Figueroa, he was also promoted. Holmgren was awarded the title of Lieutenant earlier in 2014.
As Ali Winston of East Bay Press writes,
At the time of the shooting, Figueroa had no business being the incident commander or accepting the position: He was the head of the department's internal affairs division. As such, he would be responsible for investigating any misconduct stemming from that incident. It was a clear conflict of interest. As it turned out, OPD botched both the administrative and criminal investigations into the Olsen shooting. To this day, the department has yet to identify the officer responsible.Still, Interim Police Chief Sean Whent, who had himself been head of the department’s Internal Affairs division (which speaks volumes as to the worth and credibility of that agency), went forward with promotions for both Figueroa and Holmgren.
East Bay Press also points out that Holmgren has quite the history of violence. As Ali Winston writes,
Holmgren also had been involved in the illegal use of force against anti-war protesters at the Port of Oakland in 2003. And he was involved in a drunken brawl with prison guards at a charity boxing event in 2010. He also was disciplined for turning off his chest-mounted camera during clashes with Occupy Oakland demonstrators on January 28, 2012.Although the OPD conveniently “botched” the investigation of the shooting, Winston and other investigators were able to identify Officer Robert Roche as the individual who actually shot Olsen. However, while Roche was fired, the Alameda County District Attorney never filed charges against him. Neither did they file charges against the officers in charge, Holmgren and Figueroa.
An Iraq war veteran, Olsen apparently believed that when he returned to the United States the war was over and he no longer had reason to be in fear for his life. Olsen mistakenly believed that he was returning to a free country.
Unfortunately, Olsen did not fully grasp the concept that he was now in a new kind of war zone, one in which he now faced an enemy that was much more dangerous to American citizens than the “insurgents” he encountered in Iraq.
You can see additional details of the event surrounding the shooting of Scott Olsen, as well as hear from him in the video below:
Related Activist Post Article:
The Orwellian 'Non-Lethal' War Waged Against Peaceful Citizens
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