OAKLAND (AP) — An Iraq War veteran whose skull was fractured during an Occupy Oakland protest last fall was hit by a beanbag round fired by a police officer, not a tear gas canister, his lawyer said.
Scott Olsen was struck by a beanbag fired from less than 30 feet away during the clash, Olsen's attorney Mark Martel, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday
Oakland police confirmed the beanbag shot in an e-mail sent by investigator looking into the department's handling of the protests, said Martel, who is preparing to file a claim against the department. Police haven't said previously what hit Olsen, and didn't immediately return e-mail messages from The Associated Press on Thursday.
"The fact that it was a beanbag shot, which was not what we thought, puts it in a completely different light," Martel said. "If he was hit by a tear gas canister, that would just be stupid or negligent.
"But if it was a beanbag — those are meant to hit people, and it tells me that whoever did it, did it intentionally."
Olsen was injured during a nighttime protest on Oct. 25, after police cleared the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of City Hall during an early morning raid. He suffered a fractured skull that led to a brain injury and difficulty with his speech.
Martel said videos showing Olsen, a former Marine and also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, during the protest show that whoever shot him was within 30 feet.
Officer Johnna Watson, an Oakland police spokeswoman, declined to name the officer involved in Olsen's injury or to comment on the investigation.
Oakland police and a private contractor are investigating the city's response to the anti-Wall Street protests that has led to numerous demonstrations and thousands of arrests.