Has the Cop Who Injured Scott Olsen Been Identified?

 The image of the memorable assault on Occupy Oakland that left veteran Scott Olsen critically injured has become indelible: the clouds of tear gas, the shouting, the projectile that was thrown at protesters as they gatehred around Olsen lying on the ground. Because Olsen has become such a symbolic hero, and his injury such a symbolic crime, sleuths have been trying to figure out who among the different police groups there that night was responsible for his injury. One reporter on the East Bay Express has done his homework:

But an extensive review of video footage and Oakland Police Department records by this reporter indicates that Robert Roche, an acting sergeant in the Oakland Police Department and member of OPD's "Tango Teams," threw the flash-bang at Olsen and his rescuers. It's also not the first time that Roche's actions have come under scrutiny. Police records show that Roche had previously killed three people in the line of duty. 

There is a familiar pattern here. As AlterNet has pointed out in regards to recent shootings by the NYPD, a police corps that is empowered to act recklessly and with excessive force in dealings with local youths will inevitably act recklessly against peaceful protesters:

Roche is a rifle officer who has also served in gang enforcement units. He has been involved in three fatal shootings during his career. In 2006, he fatally shot seventeen-year-old Ronald Brazier after the teenager fired on Roche and two other officers. In 2007, Roche shot and killed an unarmed Jeremiah Dye in a crawlspace under an East Oakland house. Dye had run from police after his cousin shot and wounded an OPD officer during a traffic stop. In March 2008, fifteen-year-old Jose Buenrostro was shot to death by Roche and two other officers while in possession of a sawed-off rifle on 79th Avenue in East Oakland. Buenrostro's family received a $500,000 wrongful death settlement from the City of Oakland in 2010, even though police claimed that Buenrostro pointed the weapon at them. Buenrostro's family contended that he did not threaten the officers.

The full explanation of the process which the East Bay Express used to pinpoint Roche is worth reading, as is this extensive profile of Olsen in Rolling Stone.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at February 22, 2012, 4:08am

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