After Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was struck in the head by a lead-lined beanbag round during an October 25 protest in Oakland, Officer Robert Roche fired a CS tear-gas canister into a crowd of people who had gathered to help him. This act of self-indulgent sadism is hardly out of what passes for Roche’s character: As a SWAT operative, Roche has been involved in three fatal shootings, and has posted a photograph boasting of his accomplishments as a killer.
“That’s the last thing many of the more observant people I’ve `met’ have ever seen,” gloated a caption Roche composed for a photograph of himself in a prone sniper’s position. “Consider yourself fortunate.”
In response to public outrage over Roche’s criminal actions during the October 25, 2011 incident, the Oakland PD fired the officer. Last March, the city hit up the tax victims within its jurisdiction to underwrite a $4.5 million settlement with Olsen. The following month, Roche filed for arbitration to get his job back. He has now been reinstated on the force, and his attorney says that he will resume his occupation as a state-licensed killer “with all enthusiasm, with all alacrity.”
Roche was placed on paid vacation prior to his termination. He will receive two years’ back pay once he rejoins the force.
There is no dispute that Roche’s assault was “unreasonable” and illegal. However, in arbitration proceedings Roche successfully used the “Nuremberg Defense,” insisting (in the words of a report from PoliceOne.com) that his actions were “justified because he was following a superior officer’s orders.”
Roche’s on-site commander, Captain Paul Figueroa, is now the Oakland PD’s assistant chief. Apparently, he wasn’t held liable for Roche’s criminal actions because no specific order to fire was clearly given.
This is a case of self-reinforcing police impunity: Roche is exonerated because he was just following orders; Figueroa, for his part, isn’t responsible for Roche’s crime because he was just ordering followers.
In this video produced by WeCopwatch, Scott Olsen — who has recovered from his injuries – describes his ordeal and warns that the Oakland PD has now re-hired a “serial killer” who has “cost our city millions at the expense of the people of Oakland.”11:13 am on August 1, 2014 Email William Norman Grigg