Most of us remember this image from last year’s Occupy Oakland during which the police instigated a riot and then used excessive force.
On October 25, 2011, Olsen was shot while standing still, facing forward and only twenty feet away from a line of police in riot gear. Even with tensions running high that night, there was no way to interpret Olsen’s actions, or lack thereof, as hostile or threatening. Rather, an unknown officer apparently took offense at his defiance (he was not cowering, you see) and simply shot him in the head with ammunition specifically prohibited from being used for crowd control due to its potential for serious injury. This, of course, begs the question of why the police, preparing for a riot, had it with them in the first place.
According to Court House News:
“The impact fractured Mr. Olsen’s skull and caused severe hemorrhaging of his brain. As a result of his injuries, Mr. Olsen lost his ability to speak and perform basic mental and physical functions. Although he has recovered much of his speech and functions through intensive therapy, he still frequently has difficulty speaking, concentrating, and remembering things.”
All that just for passively standing up to police? It’s a wonder that Oakland has a reputation for police brutality with such restraint on the part of law enforcement.
Olsen claims the Oakland PD’s misdeeds did not end with his shooting. He says officers failed to report his shooting to superiors, did not document the use of force against him, did not inventory the weapon used in his shooting, and failed to preserve evidence concerning the incident – but allowed officers “who were potential witnesses and/or subjects of investigation” to communicate freely with each other about the shooting.
Abuse of power? Yeah. It’s very convienent when the people that break the law get to police themselves. It certainly makes for a lot of clean records for cops no matter how out of line they get.
Regardless, the case is looking good for Olsen, since Oakland already had an independent investigation into the OPD’s conduct and they concluded:
“OPD officers “had been inadequately trained; that the OPD operations against the Occupy protesters had been poorly planned; and indicated that OPD officers had used excessive and possibly criminal force against Mr. Olsen on Oct. 25, 2011, in violation of OPD crowd control policies and procedures.”
It’s tragic that a man who went overseas to fight America’s enemies came home only to mowed down by the very people he risked his life for. That he was shot in defense of the 1% that have caused more suffering than terrorists ever have or will makes it all the more horrible.