OAKLAND -- A 24-year old former Marine Corps corporal and Iraqi war veteran remained in critical condition at Highland Hospital on Wednesday night after friends said he was hit in the head with a police projectile in Tuesday's Occupy Oakland confrontation.
Scott Thomas Olsen, 24, of Onalaska, Wis., was admitted to Highland after he was hit on the head above his right eye during clashes with police, said hospital spokesman Curt Olsen, who is not related to the veteran.
Scott Olsen appears to be the first serious injury nationwide of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread to virtually every major American city -- and several smaller ones -- as millions of people continue to express their anger and disappointment with the country's banking, regulatory and health care systems.
"It's absolutely unconscionable that our citizens are going overseas to protect other citizens just to come back and have our own police hurt them," said Joshua Shepherd, a six-year Navy veteran and friend of Olsen's, who attended a vigil late Wednesday afternoon for the injured man.
Fellow protesters brought him in after he failed to respond to basic questions. Doctors at the hospital said that Olsen had brain swelling and placed him under immediate supervision.
"He survived two tours in Iraq," said Adele Carpenter, a friend of Olsen's and a member of the Civilian Soldier Alliance. "This struggle has high stakes; I really respect the fact that Scott was standing up for what he believes in. He's really passionate about social justice causes."
Acting Chief Howard Jordan said the incident is under investigation by Internal Affairs, the Office of Investigator General, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the federal monitor that oversees Oakland police as a part of the settlement of a police corruption lawsuit. Oakland police will also review training, policies and procedures.
Jordan called the incident "unfortunate," adding that he wished it did not happen.
"The goal is not to cause injury," he said.
He said Oakland police used bean bags and gas but do not use rubber bullets or wooden dowels. It is possible that other agencies did, he said. More than a dozen agencies from across Northern California assisted Oakland police under what is called a mutual aid agreement. They are, however, required to comply with Oakland policies.
The Oakland Police Department has requested use-of-force reports from the outside agencies.
Olsen, a systems analyst at a San Francisco IT firm called OPSWAT, had camped out for several nights at San Francisco's occupation before moving to Oakland a few days ago.
Olsen was one of several hundred protesters who swarmed through Oakland's downtown well into the morning hours on Wednesday, repeatedly clashing with riot police. In some cases, protesters threw bottles and tipped over garbage containers. Oakland police said two of its officers were injured when a protester doused them with cans of blue and pink paint.
Protesters lambasted the police response as "heavy handed" and criticized the use of projectiles such as the one that struck Olsen.
"He was shot by the people who were supposed to protect him," said Keith Shannon, 24, Olsen's Daly City roommate and former Marine Corps colleague. "It shows what lengths the government will go to to suppress opposing points of view."
Olsen served two tours of duty in Iraq, once to the Iraqi-Syrian border city of Al Qaim from August 2006 to May 2007, and once to Haditha, in 2008. Both cities were hotbeds of al-Qaida and insurgent activity.
In 2010, the Marines issued Olsen an "administrative discharge." Maj. Shawn Haney, a Marines spokesman based in Quantico, Va., declined to discuss Olsen's discharge, but said his departure could have been for anything from a medical condition to a punitive measure.
Another young man, a 30-year-old Irish national named Seamus, lay writhing on the ground sobbing Wednesday afternoon clutching a grapefruit-sized bruise above his left hip. He said he and Olsen had been together when Olsen was shot. Seamus said his bruise was the result of a police projectile. Other protesters gathered around Seamus and showed off small rubber buckshot pellets they said police had fired at them.
Olsen's parents planned to fly to Oakland on Thursday to see their son. Highland Hospital administrators said Olsen remained in critical condition, with no change in his status since his admission Tuesday night. But friends and acquaintances said hospital officials told them Olsen had suffered a skull fracture and was at risk of brain damage.
Staff writer Angela Woodall contributed to this report.