The Oakland Police department's handling of occupation protests on Oct. 25, 2011 was a dreadful comedy of errors. Despite the excellent program that former mayor Ronald Dellums designed, the current Mayor, Jean Quan, former Police Chief Howard Jordan and the Oakland police department failed to carry out the same well-disciplined program that kept the highly emotional Oscar Grant protests from going wrong. As a result, Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen was shot directly in the head with a high powered lead beanbag round. According to a March 21 NBC local news report, Olsen has settled his lawsuit against the Oakland Police and others for $4.6 million.
Olsen is now 26 years old. He has serious brain damage with speech difficulties. He can only do basic tasks. He has troubles with concentration and memory. His medical expenses have reached $200,000 so far. He was employed as a systems administrator at a technology company before he was injured. Now he faces years of therapy and recovery.
When Olsen was attacked, police were acting out against an unruly part of a crowd. Protesters had returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza on the evening of October 25 after they were evicted from the plaza earlier that day. Video evidence showed that Olsen was not part of the disturbance. He was standing away from police barricades and was doing nothing.
It was a blatant violation of OPD's own crowd control policy for a still-unknown officer to have fired the beanbag round. Olsen, who was standing 15 feet away from police barricades, was hit directly in the head. Early reports were that the unidentified officer aimed a flash grenade at Olsen’s head.
According to a March 15 East Bay Express report, the police then claimed not to have seen Olsen after he was hit. This was despite people calling for help and eventually helping Olsen themselves. Former compliance director Tom Frazier investigated the claims of the Tango Team officers who were involved. He was disturbed by their claims and wrote,
“After review of hours of video footage involving the injured party (who appears to be approximately 15-25 feet in front of the police skirmish line when he was struck and fell to the ground), the fact that no law enforcement officer, supervisor, or commander observed the person falling down or prostrate in the street during the confrontation was unsettling and not believable."
The Oakland Police Department Continues to maintain stocks of crowd control weapons like blast grenades, CS tear gas and lead bean bags.
Olsen joined many others who became international symbols of police brutality in response to protests.