ALL PARTS
PART I
Scott Olsen — "I Didn't Realize How Bad It Was."

PART I - Scott Olsen“I DIDN'T REALIZE HOW BAD IT WAS.”

Thumbnail part I

Shot in the head by police firing bean-bag rounds at demonstrators, this veteran awoke from a coma, returned to protesting, and became a symbol to the Occupy movement. Ten years later, he represents a life shattered by the misuse of less-lethal munitions.

READ PART I
 
PART II
Andre Miller — What Is a Rubber Bullet?

PART II - Andre MillerWhat is a rubber bullet?

Andre Miller, who was shot in the head with a tear-gas canister in July 2020, is photographed at his home in Portland, Ore., in June 2022.

Less-lethal munitions come in all shapes and sizes and can leave behind devastating wounds. Victims of KIPs often don’t know what hit them, unless — like this Black Lives Matter protester — there’s shrapnel left behind.

READ PART II
 
PART III
Richard Moore — The Original Rubber Bullet

PART III - Richard MooreThe original rubber bullet

Thumbnail part III

This 10-year-old from Derry, Northern Ireland was shot in the face with a rubber bullet while running home from school, an attack that blinded him for life. In the decades since, the U.K. has turned away from less-lethal munitions while U.S. law enforcement has increasingly embraced them. Why?

READ PART III
 
PART IV
Victoria Snelgrove — When Things Go Wrong

PART IV - Victoria SnelgroveWhen Things Go Wrong

Thumbnail part IV

Everyone knew if the Red Sox ever beat the Yankees, Boston would burst. But what actually happened when they finally won exceeded people's worst fears. How a euphoric riot, a lack of police training, and an untested less-lethal weapon left a woman dead and city leaders searching for answers.

READ PART IV
 
PART V
Minneapolis
PART VI
Austin
TIMELINE
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
 
01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
THE PEOPLE VS. RUBBER BULLETSPART I

Scott Olsen“I DIDN'T REALIZE HOW BAD IT WAS.”

BY
Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Scott Olsen returns to the Occupy Oakland protest, weeks after police shot him in the head with a bean-bag round in October 2011.

Sarah Rice / San Francisco Chronicle

Scott Olsen displays the “Veterans for Peace” shirt he was wearing when police shot him in the head with a bean-bag round.
Photographed in June 2022 at his home in La Crosse, Wis., Olsen displays the “Veterans for Peace” shirt he was wearing when police shot him.
Lyndon French for Long Lead
People walk among tents at the Occupy Oakland protest in October 2011.
Protestors walk among tents erected in front of Oakland City Hall as part of the Occupy Oakland protest in October 2011.
Ben Margot / Associated Press
This video, which inaccurately implies that Olsen was shot with a tear gas canister, was uploaded to YouTube days after he was shot and viewed nearly 2 million times.
Raleigh Latham
Scott Olsen bleeds from his head as a crowd of people come to his aid.
Olsen lies on the ground bleeding from a head wound after being struck by a less-lethal projectile during the Occupy Oakland protest on October 25, 2011, in Oakland, Calif.
Jay Finneburgh / Associated Press
Three images, from top: A helmeted officer holds a shotgun, an armored officer carries an air rifle amidst smoke, and a man shows of a high-powered launcher.
From top: A Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police officer holds a shotgun during crowd control training in May 2004. Federal officers armed with pellet-launching air rifles walk through tear gas in Portland, Ore., in August 2020. Simi Valley Police Lt. Neal Rein holds a 37mm Sage SL-6 multi-role projectile launcher, capable of firing up to six baton rounds, in April 1996.
Erik S. Lesser / Getty; Nathan Howard / Getty; Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times / Getty

Pain compliance from a distance

Three images, from top: A man bleeds from a wound on his head while wearing a surgical mask, a woman with a head wound and black eyes speaks, a man holds a hankercheif near a bleeding wound in his forehead.
From top: Photojournalist Ed Ou bleeds after police hit him with pepper spray and a less-lethal projectile on May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis. LaToya Ratlieff talks about her experience having been shot in the face with a foam round on that same day in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Meanwhile, a protester runs for safety in Los Angeles after also having been shot with a less-lethal projectile on May 30, 2020.
Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty; Al Diaz / Miami Herald / Getty; Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / Getty
A pair of MRI images of a human head showing a traumatic brain injury.
MRI images of Olsen’s brain, taken after his skull was fractured by a bean-bag round.
Courtesy of Scott Olsen

“There is a part of his brain that’s missing”

A man stands a podium, speaking into a microphone with notes, in front of an audience.
Olsen speaks at a public forum before the Oakland Police Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, roughly a year before he would settle with the City of Oakland for $4.5 million.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez / San Francisco Chronicle / Getty
Protesters hold signs with Scott Olsen's image on them.
Veterans demonstrating near Zuccotti Park in New York Nov. 2, 2011 hold signs in support of Scott Olsen.
Lucas Jackson / Reuters / Alamy

When the smoke cleared

Three pictures, from top: A man rides a train, two people hug while a protester watches, a man smiles amid a crowd of people.
From top: Scott Olsen rides BART to an Occupy demonstration in Oakland, Calif. Olsen hugs a friend at the event. Olsen at the protest, the first Occupy gathering he has attended since being injured.
Justin Maxon
Scott Olsen stands on some logs next to a boat in green landscape.
Olsen takes stock on his farm in La Crosse, Wis., in June 2022.
Lyndon French for Long Lead
A group of women march in protest.
Protesters march acr​oss the Brooklyn Bridge on the​ one-year anniversary of Georg​e Floyd's murder, in New York City on May ​25 2021.
Mark Peterson / Redux

Unanswered questions

What is clear about less-lethal munitions is that, when they do injure people, the effect is devastating.

Protesters raise their hands as police officers look on.
Sheriffs in riot gear hold back a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles on June 6th, 2020.
Wendy Sue Lamm / Contrasto / Redux
PART I
Scott Olsen — "I Didn't Realize How Bad It Was."

PART I - Scott Olsen“I DIDN'T REALIZE HOW BAD IT WAS.”

Thumbnail part I

Shot in the head by police firing bean-bag rounds at demonstrators, this veteran awoke from a coma, returned to protesting, and became a symbol to the Occupy movement. Ten years later, he represents a life shattered by the misuse of less-lethal munitions.

READ PART I
 
PART II
Andre Miller — What Is a Rubber Bullet?

PART II - Andre MillerWhat is a rubber bullet?

Andre Miller, who was shot in the head with a tear-gas canister in July 2020, is photographed at his home in Portland, Ore., in June 2022.

Less-lethal munitions come in all shapes and sizes and can leave behind devastating wounds. Victims of KIPs often don’t know what hit them, unless — like this Black Lives Matter protester — there’s shrapnel left behind.

READ PART II
 
PART III
Richard Moore — The Original Rubber Bullet

PART III - Richard MooreThe original rubber bullet

Thumbnail part III

This 10-year-old from Derry, Northern Ireland was shot in the face with a rubber bullet while running home from school, an attack that blinded him for life. In the decades since, the U.K. has turned away from less-lethal munitions while U.S. law enforcement has increasingly embraced them. Why?

READ PART III
 
PART IV
Victoria Snelgrove — When Things Go Wrong

PART IV - Victoria SnelgroveWhen Things Go Wrong

Thumbnail part IV

Everyone knew if the Red Sox ever beat the Yankees, Boston would burst. But what actually happened when they finally won exceeded people's worst fears. How a euphoric riot, a lack of police training, and an untested less-lethal weapon left a woman dead and city leaders searching for answers.

READ PART IV
 
PART V
Minneapolis
PART VI
Austin
TIMELINE
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
 
WARNING

This website contains graphic images of violence that some people may find disturbing.