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Report: Iraq War Veteran Critically Injured in Occupy Oakland Police Action


An Iraq war veteran was critically injured in the police crackdown on the Occupy Oakland protests-turned-riots Tuesday night, according to media reports.

Scott Olsen, 24, is in critical condition in an area hospital with a fractured skull and swelling to the brain after he was hit in the head with an apparent police projectile, the Huffington Post reported.

(Related: See video of the moment Olsen was injured and read about the "level-one" investigation being launched against officers)

Protesters claimed police used rubber bullets and bean bags to quell demonstrations. Oakland police said Wednesday they fired tear gas canisters at demonstrators but denied using rubber bullets or flashbangs.

Olsen's roommate, Keith Shannon, told the Huffington Post that the two-term veteran and Veterans for Peace member was marching alongside other protesters when the incident occurred.

"He was just hit by a projectile," Shannon said, adding that he did not attend the march but heard about what happened from eyewitnesses. "He wasn't near a police officer when it happened."

Shannon told the Guardian that Olsen was hit in the head by a tear gas canister shot by a police officer, and said Olsen had a curved mark on his forehead consistent with a canister's shape.

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Shannon said Olsen was able to walk into the hospital himself but was put under sedation when doctors discovered the brain swelling.

Sandra Olsen, Scott's mother, told the Huffington Post her son's condition was serious.

"He has a head injury," she said. "They are still trying to figure it out with him. I don't want to tie up the phone line. He's not in the best shape."

A video posted online shows a young man in a Marine jacket and "Veterans for Peace" T-shirt being carried through the crowd, with activists screaming "Medic!" He has blood on his face and his eyes are open, but he appears dazed and doesn't answer when asked his name.

Photos posted on the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center blog show the same injured man:

this poor guy was right behind me when he was hit in the head with a police projectile. he went down hard and did not get up. the bright light in the second shot is from a flash-bang grenade that went off a few feet from us. he was eventually taken to highland hospital.

Shannon said Olsen had been attending Occupy San Francisco events and decided to join up with the protest in Oakland.

"He doesn't agree with the way the banks aren't regulated, the way they drove the economy in the ground. He wants there to be regulation of the banks," Shannon said.

Shannon told the Guardian he and Olsen are both members of Veterans for Peace, which released a statement Wednesday regarding Olsen's injury:

Veteran For Peace member, Scott Olsen, a Marine Corps veteran twice deployed to Iraq, is in hospital now in stable but serious condition with a fractured skull, struck by a police projectile fired into a crowd in downtown Oakland, California in the early morning hours of today.  Other people were injured in the assault and many were arrested after Oakland police in riot gear were ordered to evict people encamped in the ongoing "Occupy Oakland" movement.  Olsen is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"It's terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us," Shannon told the Guardian.

Olsen is awaiting a neurosurgeon's evaluation as to whether he needs surgery.

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