A College of Marin instructor is suing the city of Oakland over treatment he says he received from police during a Jan. 28 protest.
In a lawsuit filed this month in federal court in San Francisco, Robert Ovetz, a 45-year-old Woodacre resident, said he was observing an Occupy Oakland protest downtown when he became trapped between two lines of advancing police officers. Without provocation, Ovetz claimed, officers struck him in the face, slammed his head into the ground and beat him with a baton, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Ovetz suffered bruises on his hip and face and chipped teeth, in addition to broken eyeglasses and damage to his bicycle, his attorney, Matthew Siroka said.
"It's outrageous," Siroka said.
Ovetz was arrested and jailed for several days on suspicion of obstructing an officer and resisting arrest but charges were dropped.
He referred questions to Siroka.
The Oakland Police Department did not return a call seeking comment.
Ovetz teaches several history and political science courses at College of Marin, according to course schedules.
Last year, he ran unsuccessfully for Lagunitas School District board.
Ovetz is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, he received an award from the Society of Professional Journalists' Northern California for defending students' right to publish a story dealing with racism in a school magazine at the Art Institute of California in San Francisco. Ovetz was fired from the art institute.
According to the lawsuit, Ovetz is studying history, political violence and social movements and intended to observe the Oakland protest as part of his research.
"Robert is very patriotic," Siroka said. "That is why he is interested in doing what he does. That is why he studies what he does."
On Jan. 28, Ovetz was caught in crowd of protesters and police when an officer shoved him into a group of people, according to the lawsuit. Another officer "smacked the right side of his head, hitting his nose and knocking his glasses off," the lawsuit states.
While Ovetz looked for his glasses on the ground, he was beaten with a baton and an officer grabbed him by his bicycle helmet and slammed his chin into the ground, causing his teeth to chatter, according to the suit.
The lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of money, alleges violations of several constitutional rights in addition to excessive force, false arrest, assault and battery.