A video clip is raising new questions about whether police used excessive force against Occupy Oakland participants during the fracas after last week's general strike.
The video by Scott Campbell, 30, of Oakland, shows a line of riot-gear-clad officers at Frank Ogawa Plaza's north end, near the foot of San Pablo Avenue. Campbell said the video was made shortly before 1 a.m.
Thursday, around the time that police moved in after other protesters broke into and defaced a nearby building and erected and set fire to barricades in the street.
Campbell, holding the camera, moves slowly to his right, filming the line; Campbell is heard twice asking, "Is this OK?"
"When I was approaching the line, an officer told me to stop and step back, so I stepped back 5 or 10 feet and started filming, and I asked if that was OK," he explained Monday.
He said there was no reply until an officer raised a weapon and fired, striking him in the upper right thigh with a nonlethal projectile; the video ends with his crying out in pain.
Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminal justice professor who's an expert in police decision-making and use of force, said the video left him "astonished, amazed and embarrassed."
"Unless there's something we don't know, that's one of the most outrageous uses of a firearm that I've ever seen," he said. "Unless there's a threat that you can't see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force."