Oakland’s independent police review body will examine the clashes between riot officers and protesters that left an Iraq war veteran in a critical condition as Occupy protesters prepare to rally at the same spot for a third night of protests.
Police battled protesters following an Occupy Oakland march to demonstrate against the closing of two occupations in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning. More than 100 people have been arrested in Oakland since police cleared a camp in Frank Ogawa plaza.
Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a fractured skull and brain swelling after he was allegedly hit in the head by a police projectile during the clashes on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Highland hospital in east Oakland confirmed he was critically ill after being admitted on Tuesday night.
A source at the Oakland citizen’s police review board said it had not yet received a formal complaint, but would be “looking into” the circumstances surrounding Olsen’s injuries. The board will decide whether to launch an official investigation over the next couple of days.
Jay Finneburgh, an activist photographer who was at the protest, published pictures of Olsen lying bloodied on the ground, while video footage appeared to show police throwing a ‘flash bang’ explosive close to fellow protesters trying to provide aid.
“[Olsen] stood behind me,” Finneburgh told the Guardian. “I looked to my left and he hit the ground, and he hit it hard.
“A woman went to look down at him, and he was bleeding from the head. She started screaming,” he said.
Video footage posted to YouTube shows Olsen lying motionless in front of a police line after apparently having been hit. A group of up to 10 protesters gather around him, but a police officer can be seen throwing a device close to the group which then explodes with a bright flash and loud bang, scattering the protesters. The video then cuts to footage of protesters carrying Olsen away as he bleeds from the head.