Scott Olsen’s skull was shattered and part of his brain destroyed when an OPD officer shot him in the head with a Specialty Impact Munition (SIM) at a 2011 Occupy Oakland demonstration. As he lay critically injured on the pavement, an OPD officer threw a CS Blast grenade onto him – a teargas device that explodes with a flash of light and loud bang. At least a dozen other people were injured by so-called “less lethal” weapons at the Occupy demonstrations, even though OPD’s own policies and federal court orders specify that these weapons may not be fired into crowds. As a result, the City of Oakland has had to pay out more than $7 million in legal settlements to people who have suffered serious injuries from SIM or CS Blasts, including burns, hearing loss, fractures, crushed nerves and scarring. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed in Oakland, as occurred in Boston when college student Victoria Snelgrove was struck with a small plastic SIM that an officer was aiming for another person in a crowd of baseball fans. We demand that OPD be prohibited from using SIM and CS Blast grenades at demonstrations and other crowd events. These so-called “less lethal” weapons cause serious injuries to innocent people and major liability to the Oakland taxpayers. Other major Bay Area cities don’t use SIM, chemical agents or explosives on crowds, and we don’t need them here in Oakland. Please sign and share the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/no-less-lethals-4-opd
Rachel Lederman, Jim Chanin and Julie Houk are announcing a major settlement today in Scott Olsen’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland. An Oakland Police officer shot 24 year veteran Scott Olsen in the head with a “less lethal” munition on October 25, 2011, during a demonstration in support of Occupy Oakland. The lead filled 12 gauge “bean bag” round shattered Mr. Olsen’s skull and permanently destroyed part of his brain. More information here.
As with Tasers, which were marketed as a high tech method of reducing Officer Involved Shooting deaths, PDRDs are a mixed bag and not an easy solution to what are actually much broader issues of racism and state repression. If the cameras are to create greater police accountability, it is essential that the videos be made immediately accessible to the public – and that the public (including Copwatchers and NLG Legal Observers) continue our own independent documentation of law enforcement actions.
The City of Oakland has tentatively authorized paying Army veteran Kayvan Sabeghi $645,000 to resolve his lawsuit over his beating by OPD “Tango Team” Officer Frank Uu during an Occupy Oakland demonstration on November 2, 2011. Rachel Lederman, Dennis Cunningham and Bobbie Stein represented Sabeghi in the federal civil rights lawsuit. The Sabeghi settlement comes less than six months after the city approved over $2 million in settlements to resolve two other cases over OPD’s repression of Occupy and Justice for Oscar Grant demonstrations, which were also litigated by Rachel and other NLG lawyers and legal workers.
Read this in depth article by Kate Conger in the SF Weekly on the long term struggle to stop OPD abuses against protesters.