activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: scott olsen

officer reinstated after throwing flash-bang grenade at demonstrators assisting scott olsen

During the October 25, 2011 protest against the eviction of Occupy Oakland, an Oakland police officer shot Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen in the head with a lead-filled bean-bag round, fracturing Olsen’s skull and causing permanent brain damage. Another officer, Rob Roche, then threw a flash-bang grenade at demonstrators who came to assist the bleeding Olsen. Although Roche was fired in August 2013 for this brutality, today an arbitrator ordered Oakland to reinstate him with back pay.

The Alameda County District Attorney never filed criminal charges against Roche or any other Oakland police officer for misconduct during the October 25, 2011 protest. Earlier this year, however, Olsen received a $4.5 million settlement from Oakland. According to a March 26 East Bay Express article,

As for Olsen, he said he’s relieved that his injuries were not worse. After the shooting, he temporarily lost his ability to speak and perform basic motor functions, and while he has improved significantly with therapy, his memory, concentration, and speech are still impaired.

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oakland police chief used spam filter to avoid seeing occupy-related emails

Beginning on October 27, 2011, certain emails to the Oakland police chief went straight into his junk mail folder, which he never checked. Yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle article explains:

People who’ve e-mailed Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan over the past year about Occupy Oakland probably didn’t get much of a response. That’s because he used a spam filter to dismiss messages sent to him with “Occupy Oakland” in the subject line, according to a federal court filing Monday. Same goes for the phrases “stop the excessive police force,” “respect the press pass” or “police brutality.”

Jordan initially used the spam filter to stop a flood of emails related to the October 25, 2011 demonstration at which an Oakland police officer fractured Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen’s skull by firing a lead-filled bean-bag round at his head. Jordan conveniently forgot about the filter until a couple weeks ago, when a judge ordered the city to investigate why Jordan had missed one or more emails from the federal court monitor overseeing the police department’s compliance with court-ordered reforms. Emails containing the phrases listed above will now go to Jordan’s inbox.

oakland police arrested hundreds of protesters in the past year, but prosecutors declined to file charges against the vast majority

As Occupy Oakland plans to retake Oscar Grant Plaza this afternoon, statistics show that 109 people have been criminally charged as a result of Occupy Oakland rallies since police evicted the encampment one year ago today. Yet those rallies resulted in 737 arrests, so the overwhelming majority of arrestees were never charged. Of the arrestees who were charged, 3 went to trial and were found guilty, 22 had their cases dismissed, approximately 30 accepted plea deals, and 55 are still fighting the charges.

In addition, Oakland police chief Howard Jordan announced two weeks ago that 44 officers should be disciplined, including 2 who should be fired, for violating crowd-control policies during Occupy Oakland marches in the past year. None of the proposed punishments immediately took effect, because officers could appeal. Jordan acknowledged that one officer fired a bean-bag round into the head of Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen on October 25, 2011, seriously injuring him, and another officer threw one or more projectiles – apparently a flash-bang grenade – at demonstrators who came to assist the bleeding Olsen.

On December 13, a hearing is scheduled regarding whether a federal judge should order the first takeover of a local police department, the Oakland police, by a federal receiver.