Costs From Occupy Police Abuse Mount for Oakland

Oakland – On December 10, the Oakland City Council agreed to settle two additional lawsuits arising from OPD’s violent repression of Occupy Oakland. Kayvan Sabeghi, an Army veteran who lost much of his spleen when he was brutally clubbed by OPD Officer Frank Uu on the night of the “General Strike”, November 2, 2011, will receive $645,000. Robert Ovetz, a college instructor and activist from Marin County who was beaten and arrested on January 28, 2012, will receive $48,500.

Frank Uu, now retired, was part of a tight-knit group of SWAT  / “Tango team” officers who were at the heart of OPD’s violent misconduct toward Occupy Oakland demonstrators. Uu’s immediate supervisor at the time of this incident was Sgt. Patrick Gonzales, who has been involved in multiple shooting deaths. Uu had been allowed to wander away from his squad and act on his own when he beat and arrested Kayvan Sabeghi. Although Sabeghi was never charged with any crime, OPD had him booked into jail where he remained for 18 hours without medical attention before being taken to the hospital.

These two most recent Occupy related settlements came less than six months after Oakland agreed to stipulated injunctive relief and to pay more than $2 million in two NLG lawsuits arising from OPD excessive force at the fall, 2011, Occupy events, and wrongful mass arrest of Justice for Oscar Grant demonstrators. The monetary settlements are just one part of the massive costs the City has incurred as a result of its chronic failure to control its police force and to comply with federal court orders, as well as its disastrous response to Occupy. Millions more have been spent on consultants, on an independent investigation of the OPD response to Occupy, on contracting out many of the Occupy related Internal Affairs investigations, on counsel for subject officers in personnel and civil proceedings, and on the increased federal oversight required by OPD’s persistent dereliction to implement the agreed on reforms. In addition, two very serious Occupy related lawsuits are still unresolved: Scott Olsen’s, the young veteran who was shot in the head with a lead filled beanbag round by an OPD officer; and the wrongful arrest case involving 400 people who were kettled and jailed on January 28, 2012.

Sabeghi was represented by NLG lawyers Dennis Cunningham, Bobbie Stein and Rachel Lederman. He also has a separate ongoing lawsuit against Alameda County for mistreatment and medical neglect in the jail, that is being litigated by NLG member Dan Siegel. Robert Ovetz’ lawyer is Matt Siroka.