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Oakland Agrees to Settle With Military Veteran Hurt in Occupy Incident

| December 12, 2013
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Occupy Oakland protesters carry injured former Marine Scott Olsen after he was struck in the head with a police projectile during unrest in October 2011. Olsen has a lawsuit pending against the city, which settled a suit with a second veteran, Kayvan Sabeghi, for $645,000. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images)

Occupy Oakland protesters carry injured former Marine Scott Olsen after he was struck in the head with a police projectile during unrest in October 2011. Olsen has a lawsuit pending against the city, which settled a suit with a second veteran, Kayvan Sabeghi, for $645,000. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images)


*Please see correction at end of this post.

The city of Oakland is on its way to settling yet another claim arising from police violence during the 2011-12 Occupy protests. The City Council has given preliminary approval for a $645,000 settlement with Kayvan Sabeghi, a military veteran who suffered a lacerated spleen and other injuries after an encounter with police in downtown Oakland in November 2011.

Sabeghi was the second veteran hurt during police crackdowns on Occupy Oakland protesters. A week before he was beaten, Marine vet Scott Olsen was critically injured when a bean-bag projectile fired by an Oakland police officer struck him in the head. Olsen’s legal action against the city is still pending.

Sabeghi’s federal suit, filed in November 2012 and amended last January, alleged he was beaten by Oakland police Officer Frank Uu and illegally detained in the hours after the Occupy Oakland general strike in November 2011. Sabeghi’s complaint says in part:

…Defendant Uu came through the police line and confronted plaintiff, cursing at him, and then struck him repeatedly with a club, driving him towards the west sidewalk in front of the police line. Although plaintiff did not resist or fight back and was not physically aggressive in any way, Uu continued to beat him and Uu, Patterson, and other officers tackled him at or near the curb with unnecessary and excessive force, piling on top of him and violently twisting his arms. Plaintiff suffered a lacerated spleen, as well as cuts and bruises. There was no justification for the use of force on plaintiff. Defendant Sgt. Gonzalez and other superiors failed to adequately supervise Ofcr. Uu and other officers, failed to intervene, and approved and condoned the officers’ unlawful conduct against plaintiff.

A joint case management statement issued in March reported “it is anticipated that defendants do not dispute that Officer Uu used excessive force on plaintiff in violation of the Fourth Amendment, or the extent of plaintiff’s injury.”

Sabeghi also filed a state lawsuit against Alameda County over his treatment after he was taken to jail, an action that’s still pending.

Here’s how the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko reported the second lawsuit when it was filed last year:

After Kayvan Sabeghi was arrested and jailed in November 2011, sheriff’s deputies ignored his complaints even as he lay on the floor vomiting, unable to move and begging for help, his lawyers said in a suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court last month.

The officers “acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need” and worsened Sabeghi’s injuries, the suit said. It seeks compensation and punitive damages against the county and Corizon, its medical contractor for the jail.

Sabeghi, 33, of Oakland, a businessman who was an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he had taken part in a nonviolent Occupy Oakland protest on Nov. 2, 2011, and was trying to walk home when he was stopped by police. One officer was videotaped repeatedly hitting him with a nightstick. He was arrested on suspicion of remaining at the scene of a riot but was never charged, his lawyers said.

At the Glenn Dyer Jail in downtown Oakland, the suit said, deputies initially refused to examine Sabeghi or take him to a doctor. One officer saw him lying on the floor throwing up and told him to stop using heroin, and another deputy recorded his sufferings on video to humiliate him, the suit said.

The Oakland Tribune’s Matthew Artz says of this week’s unanimous City Council settlement:

The settlement with Kayvan Sabeghi, who suffered a ruptured spleen, is the largest awarded so far to anyone injured during a string of Occupy Oakland protests in late 2011 and early 2012.

In July, the city agreed to pay $1.17 million to resolve 12 Occupy-related claims — including that of Scott Campbell, who filmed a police officer shooting him in the leg with a lead beanbag.

Sabeghi, who co-owned a brewpub in El Cerrito at the time of the attack, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Here’s a video of the Nov. 3, 2011, incident shot by artist Neil Rivas, posted by The Guardian:




Correction: This post has been corrected to note that Occupy Oakland protester Scott Olsen was struck in the head with a police bean-bag projectile, not a tear-gas canister. The post has also been corrected to note that the suit being settled by the city of Oakland was brought by Kayvan Sabeghi against Oakland police officers alleged to have participated in his beating and detention in the wake of an Occupy Oakland protest in November 2011. A second lawsuit is still pending against Alameda County concerning allegations about Sabeghi’s treatment while he was detained in a county jail.

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
  • Rachel Lederman

    HI- there are a number of inaccuracies in this story. First of all it is Sabeghi’s lawsuit against Oakland re his beating by OPD officer Frank Uu that is in the process of settling, not his (separate) lawsuit against Alameda County re: mistreatment in jail. Also, Scott Olsen was struck by an OPD beanbag munition fired from a shotgun by OPD Officer Robert Roche.

    • Dan Brekke

      Ms. Lederman: Thanks for pointing out the errors. I’ve made and noted corrections.

  • Dan Brekke

    We’ve changed the video and credited it, per our discussion.