March 21, 2014 / 6:17 PM / 6 years ago

Iraq war vet hurt in California Occupy protest to get $4.5 million

Marine veteran Scott Olsen, who suffered a head injury at the October 25 Occupy Oakland protest, smiles as he takes part in the Occupy movements' attempts to shut down West Coast ports in Oakland, California December 12, 2011. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An Iraq War veteran critically wounded by police during an Occupy protest in 2011 will receive $4.5 million in a tentative settlement with the City of Oakland, the northern California city where he was hurt, attorneys said on Friday.

Scott Olsen was 24 when he suffered head injuries and brain damage after being struck by a lead-filled beanbag during a confrontation with Oakland police in October 2011, at the height of the Occupy movement on the U.S. West Coast.

“After serving two tours of duty as a United States Marine in Iraq, Scott Olsen could never have imagined that he would be shot in the head by an Oakland police officer while he was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights in support of the budding ‘Occupy’ economic justice movement,” Rachel Lederman, Olsen’s attorney, said in a statement.

The agreement, which settles a federal civil rights lawsuit, was reached on Tuesday night. It is awaiting final approval by the city council, Lederman said.

“This settlement will save the city the far greater costs of a trial and potentially much higher judgment,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement. “This is a fair settlement, given the facts of the case and the significant injuries Mr. Olsen sustained.”

Following the 2011 incident, Olsen became a symbol for the Occupy movement, which began in New York as a protest against economic inequality and corporate excesses. Images of Olsen’s injuries appeared often on social media networks, and helped to draw more military veterans to protests.

Oakland became a focal point of the protests, which often led to clashes between demonstrators and police, resulting in a record number of use-of-force complaints against the police department. At least 40 officers were disciplined in the fallout.

The city agreed to pay $645,000 in December to settle a lawsuit brought by a U.S. veteran of the war in Afghanistan who was also injured in a later confrontation with law enforcement during the Oakland Occupy demonstrations.

Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson

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