Court Victory for Occupy Protester Who Was Shot by Oakland Police

Lily Dane
Activist Post

On October 25, 2011, Scott Olsen attended an Occupy Oakland demonstration.

A few minutes after he arrived, police commanders gave the order to use munitions on the crowd to encourage them to disperse.

Scott, who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Marine, was shot in the head by a “less lethal” munition. The lead filled “bean bag” round, fired from an Oakland police officer’s 12 gauge shotgun, shattered Scott’s skull and caused permanent damage to part of his brain.

The City of Oakland has agreed to pay Scott a settlement of $4.5 million to compensate him for his injury. The settlement in Olsen v. City of Oakland is pending final approval by the Oakland City Council.

WeCopWatch.org reported the details of the case:

Mr. Olsen was represented by attorneys Jim Chanin, Rachel Lederman, and Julie Houk. 

“After serving two tours of duty as a United States Marine in Iraq, Scott Olsen could never have imagined that he would be shot in the head by an Oakland Police officer while he was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights in support of the budding “Occupy” economic justice movement,” said Rachel Lederman. “Scott was 24 years old when the shooting and ensuing brain damage robbed him of what had been a promising career as a computer network and systems administrator.” 

Jim Chanin said, “There was no dispute that Scott Olsen never posed a threat and was protesting peacefully. He was shot because OPD commanders decided to simultaneously use chemical agents to disperse the demonstrators and have officers shoot impact munitions at anyone who might be throwing something — even though this violated their own written policies. The obviously foreseeable result was that the officers shot people who were desperately trying to flee the scene, including Mr. Olsen.” 

Lederman explained, “The commanders knew the teargas and flashbangs would cause people to panic and run, yet they elected to shoot SIM into the densely packed crowd and it is only a matter of luck that more people weren’t injured as severely as Scott Olsen or killed. If the police had done sufficient planning for the demonstration and followed their own Crowd Control Policy, the use of weapons could have entirely been avoided. After all, no other Bay Area city responded to Occupy with SIM or teargas and no other city has incurred the enormous costs that the people of Oakland have as a result.”

When concerned protesters rushed to Scott’s aid, they were scared off when OPD Officer Robert Roche threw a flashbang-like CS Blast grenade (tear gas) at them.

Scott’s fellow protesters persisted and managed to carry him to safety. They yelled for medical aid. None of the law enforcement personnel responded or called for medical attention, even though their own policy requires them to provide medical aid to anyone hit with a SIM.

Oakland police moved to fire Roche after the incident. He has been involved in at least three fatal shootings and is fighting his termination, according to sources.

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

Attorney Chanin said of the settlement:

“It’s a very sad day, not only for Scott, who’s going to have to start his life all over, but for the city of 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.”

Scott isn’t the only victim who was awarded a large settlement resulting from misconduct at the Oakland Occupy demonstration:

In July, 2013, the Oakland City Council approved a $1,170,000 settlement in a civil rights lawsuit brought by Rachel Lederman, Jim Chanin, and other attorneys on behalf of journalist Scott Campbell and 11 other persons. A separate lawsuit was resolved in December, 2013, for $645,000. 



As part of the Campbell settlement and a companion $1,025,000 settlement in Spalding v. City of Oakland, regarding unlawful mass arrests of protesters, the City and OPD again agreed to abide by the negotiated Crowd Control Policy and gave U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson the power to enforce compliance with the policy for up to seven years. (source)

Attorney Lederman said that the department is not complying with the terms of the lawsuits:

“OPD has refused to get rid of so-called “less lethal” weapons such as CS Blast grenades and lead shot filled beanbags, and until they do so, it is only a matter of time before we see another tragedy.”

Scott said the only cost isn’t monetary:

“The cost is not only money. If people can’t speak out without fear of being shot we don’t really have democracy.”

Related Activist Post Articles:

Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”


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