OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Scott Olsen, an Occupy Oakland protester seriously injured when he was allegedly hit in the head with a police projectile on Oct. 25, plans to file a claim against the city of Oakland, his attorney said Friday.
Olsen’s attorney, Mark Martel, said that evidence he has collected suggests that Olsen was hit with a beanbag round fired by police, suggesting that the round was intended to injure Olsen.
Filing the claim is likely the first step before Olsen files a lawsuit against the city, Martel said.
“It’s theoretically possible it could be resolved through the claims process but that rarely happens,” he said.
Martel said police told him that lead residue found on Olsen’s hat was consistent with a beanbag shot.
He also said that beanbag rounds were found around the area of 14th Street and Broadway, where Olsen was hit, on the night of the protest. Police have admitted that beanbag rounds were used along with tear gas that night.
However, Martel said that police have not said which officer may have fired the round that hit Olsen, or even which of the over a dozen mutual aid agencies that participated in the police action at the protest.
“We’ll be able to find that out in a lawsuit if that information is not available,” he said.
The protest was in response to the police dismantling of an Occupy Oakland camp in Frank Ogawa Plaza that morning. Protesters gathered that afternoon and marched back to confront police who had the plaza barricaded.
For hours police fired tear gas, beanbag rounds, smoke grenades and possibly rubber bullets were fired at protesters attempting to reenter the plaza.
Since beanbag rounds are intended to be shot at people directly as a non-lethal deterrent, and not in the areas around people like tear gas or smoke grenades, Martel said the discovery that Olsen was shot with a beanbag round suggests that he was hit intentionally.
“It goes from a situation of recklessness or gross negligence,” Martel said, “to a situation where an officer has got him in his sights and fires to hit him.”
“These things are designed to be fairly accurate,” Martel said.
He also said that the short distance between police barricades and where Olsen was standing suggests that the officer was aiming directly at Olsen.
“You can see video to where the officers were relative to Scott and they weren’t very far away,” Martel said. “The officer who fired that thing was aiming at Scott.”
Olsen, an Iraq War veteran, suffered a skull fracture requiring surgery and brain damage that caused him to have difficulty speaking.
Oakland police did not immediately return calls for comment.
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