Video: Occupy Oakland Veteran Says Recovery ‘Frustrating’

Nov 29, 2011 6:29pm

In his first video interview since suffering a head injury at the Occupy Oakland protests, Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen appeared to have difficulty forming words.

The 24-year-old former Marine was participating in the protests at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza outside city hall on Oct. 25 when he was struck in the head by a blunt object other protesters believe was a tear gas canister shot by police. He suffered a fractured skull and was hospitalized later that night.

The video, produced by www.indybay.org, shows Olsen struggling with simple words, such as “2006,” and other words beginning with the letter T.

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In the video he describes what he remembers of his injury.

“I had my phone out and I was texting or something to a friend of mine. And next thing I know I’m down and on the ground and there are people above me trying to help me and they ended up carrying me away,” he said, struggling to say the word “help.”

“I didn’t want them to — I wanted to get up and stay there, pick up my bag. But they carried me away, and they asked me my name several times. I couldn’t answer them, I couldn’t answer what … I don’t know if I couldn’t recall the answer or if I couldn’t spit it out. But that’s when I knew that ‘Yeah, OK, it’s time to go, it’s time to let them take care of me,’” he said.

Olsen also talked about his recovery and difficulty speaking.

“It was a very frustrating process. Initially I couldn’t form any words, I couldn’t make any words, but initially my brain was all pretty much there, I have brain farts more often than everybody normally does, but mentally I was there. And I just couldn’t spit these things out of my mouth. And they worked hard with me to get me better, and I am doing much better.”

“I expect a full recovery, but I don’t know,” he said.

His roommate, Keith Shannon, who served with Olsen in Iraq, said although he hasn’t seen the video, he believes Olsen’s speech has changed because of the injury.

“His speech is definitely slower and his voice sounds a little different. Sometimes he has to stop to think…. It definitely didn’t used to happen before,” he said. Shannon saw Olsen five hours after he was injured, and last saw him the day before Thanksgiving.

He said Olsen is undergoing physical therapy twice a week, and living near the hospital with his mother so he can have 24/7 supervision.

Olsen said there is an Oakland Police Department investigation underway, but it has already been over a month.

“Right now I’m just waiting to see what they will say about themselves in their own investigation, and see if they have the integrity that’s required of them.”

Occupy Oakland protestors plan to “reoccupy” the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Tuesday afternoon.

Shannon said he’s been a little too busy to protest, but said he told Olsen that when he was ready to go back out there, he’d be there with him.

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