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Oakland settles claims with U.S. veteran hurt in Occupy protests

By Laila Kearney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The City of Oakland has agreed to pay $645,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a U.S. veteran of the war in Afghanistan who was injured during a confrontation with police at an Occupy protest two years ago, a city official said on Wednesday.

Former Army Ranger and protester Kayvan Sabeghi was arrested in November 2011 and hospitalized for five days after clashes between police and protesters in one of a series of Occupy rallies that erupted in the streets of Oakland in 2011 and 2012.

The Oakland City Council, which gave a preliminary nod to the settlement in a closed session on Tuesday night, admitted no wrongdoing in the case, said Alex Katz, spokesman for the Oakland City Attorney's Office.

Sabeghi filed a lawsuit in November 2012 alleging wrongful beating and imprisonment by Oakland police, saying he was struck repeatedly with batons and suffered from internal bleeding. He was never charged with any crime, according to Rachel Lederman, one of his attorneys.

Oakland police came under scrutiny for their handling of the anti-Wall Street protests that demonstrated economic inequality, corporate excesses and bank bailouts.

The protests in Oakland led to clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement and resulted in record number of use-of-force complaints against the department. At least 40 officers were disciplined in the fallout.

The November 2 protest in which Sabeghi was injured was spurred in part by outrage over the wounding of former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, who was critically hurt by a tear gas canister shot by Oakland police during an Occupy event the previous week.

Olsen filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Oakland in December 2012. The city has not settled a legal dispute with Olsen over his injury claims, Katz said. He said the city attorney's office does not comment on settlements.

The city council is set to give final approval to the deal with Sabeghi next month. An Oakland police spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Gevirtz)

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