Iraq Vet Scott Olsen Settles 'Occupy' Suit Against Oakland

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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."

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.

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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.