Iraq Vet Scott Olsen Settles ‘Occupy’ Suit Against Oakland
Scott Olsen, the former Marine and Iraq War veteran who was struck in the head with a police projectile during an Occupy Oakland protest in October 2011, has settled his federal lawsuit against the city for $4.5 million.
Olsen suffered permanent brain injuries when he was hit with a “flexible baton round” fired by an Oakland police officer on the night of Oct. 25, 2014. A flexible baton round, the city explains, is “a cloth-enclosed, lead-filled round fired from a shotgun.”
‘They could give me a billion dollars and it wouldn’t give me my brain back.’— Scott Olsen,
Former Marine and injured protester
Appearing with his attorneys today, Olsen said the settlement “should be enough to allow me to get by for the rest of my life. But they could give me a billion dollars, right, and it wouldn’t give me my brain back.”
In a statement, City Attorney Barbara Parker called the settlement “fair”: “Mr. Olsen suffered a tragic injury that will affect him for the rest of his life. This settlement will save the City the far greater costs of a trial and potentially much higher judgment. This is a fair settlement given the facts of the case and the significant injuries Mr. Olsen sustained.”
Breaking away from the tone of straight reportage for a second: Take a look at the video embedded above. It’s remarkable: a 10-minute documentary that recounts the events of the night Olsen was shot, including footage from the Oakland Police Department. What the video can’t explain is the cruelty and sadism — I can’t think of other words that fit, honestly — exhibited by the Oakland officer who tossed a flash-bang grenade into the small and entirely non-threatening group of people who had gathered to help the grievously injured Olsen.
The agreement between Olsen and the city is the latest in a string of large settlements arising from the Occupy Oakland protests and earlier demonstrations in the wake of a BART officer’s killing of passenger Oscar Grant early New Year’s Day 2009. Those settlements include:
- $1.17 million paid to 12 people injured in the 2011 protests.
- $645,000 paid to Kayvan Sabeghi, an Army veteran beaten and seriously injured by police following the Occupy Oakland general strike in November 2011.
- $1.025 million in a case involving the arrest of 150 people during one of the Grant protests.