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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Injured at Occupy Events Pair to Receive $693,000

(CN) - A war veteran and political scientist allegedly beaten and detained by Oakland Police during Occupy protests stand to receive $693,000 in settlement funds, a city council agreed this week.

Kayvan Sabeghi and Robert Ovetz separately sued Oakland and multiple police officers, in Federal Court, last year.

Sabeghi, an Iraq War vet, claimed police beat him as he walked home alone after participating in a protest, on Nov. 2, 2011.

The attack was so brutal, Sabeghi said, that his spleen was ruptured. Further, he claimed, police sent him to a jail where "medical personnel mocked and ignored his pleas for help."

Sabeghi sued Oakland and three police officers, in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

In his complaint he claimed, officers beat him "so viciously that they ruptured his splenic vein, causing severe pain and internal bleeding."

Then, "Rather than summoning medical attention or taking plaintiff to the hospital, the Oakland Police officers proceeded to detain him at various locations near City Hall for some hours, and then transferred him to the Alameda County Jail, in further unlawful punishment for his First Amendment expression." Sabeghi said.

Once there, "Police officers, jailers and jail medical personnel mocked and ignored his pleas for help. Plaintiff was not taken to a hospital until approximately 18 hours after the beating. He had been bleeding internally the entire time and was in dire condition necessitating immediate emergency surgery," he added.

The Oakland City Council, in a closed session on Tuesday, authorized paying Sabeghi $645,000 to resolve the lawsuit, according to SFGate.com.

Ovetz, a political science professor and activist from Marin County, will receive $48,500 for injuries that he allegedly suffered during a separate protest.

Ovetz claimed Oakland Police beat him with a baton and slammed his head into the ground while he tried to secure his bike during a march on Jan. 28, 2012. Later, he said, they falsely charged him with assault and battery of an officer.

He sued Oakland, its Police Department, Police Chief Howard Jordan, three named officers and 20 Doe officers.

In his complaint, Ovetz said he rode his bicycle to an Occupy Oakland march, which gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza across from Oakland City Hall.

After dismounting and walking "peacefully" with crowds, Ovetz said, he "observed people running up on to the sidewalk. As he looked southbound, he saw a line of Oakland Police officers rushing forward to this location. Plaintiff looked for a means of egress with his bicycle, and saw another line of police officers rushing toward him from the north. He did not hear an order to disperse, but it was his intention to leave regardless."

About 300 to 400 people rushed the sidewalk, Ovetz claimed, and "there was no way for plaintiff to leave the scene without going through the line of advancing officers."

Realizing he was in "imminent threat of arrest or danger of being trampled," Ovetz said he began to look for a place to lock up his bike.

"Before he could do so, an officer (defendant Doe #1) shoved plaintiff into a group of people standing nearby. Plaintiff lost his balance and another officer (defendant Doe #2) smacked the right side of his head, hitting his nose and knocking his glasses off. By this point, the crowd was panicking as police officers herded them together in close proximity," he said.

Officers then grabbed Ovetz's bike and "violently pulled him to the ground," he said.

Officers allegedly beat him with a baton, striking him at least twice; and grabbed him by his bicycle helmet and "slammed his head into the ground, causing his chin to strike the concrete and his teeth to clatter."

"At no point did plaintiff physically or verbally resist his detention and arrest. He complied with all orders he heard," Ovetz's 16-page complaint states.

When reached for comment, Ovetz's attorney, Matthew Siroka, said documents regarding his client's settlement were not yet available.

In July, Oakland agreed to settle another lawsuit filed by a dozen Occupy protesters who said they were victims of excessive force for $1.17 million.

Tuesday's settlement was approved by the eight-member council, 7-0, San Jose Mercury News reported, and must be ratified at a public meeting before it becomes official.

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