Did an NYPD officer run over this National Lawyers Guild legal observer with a scooter at Occupy Wall Street?

[Video Link]

This disturbing video is making the rounds today, and there are conflicting reports of what it documents.

The man on the ground has been identified as 32-year-old Ari Douglas, a legal observer at the Occupy Wall Street protests for the National Lawyer's Guild. The video appears to show a police officer running over Mr. Douglas' leg with a scooter.

There are updated reports at Gothamist, NYO, NY Mag, and the New York Times.

Initial reports said Mr. Douglas was hit and run over with the scooter, and that his leg was broken; the video appears to show him writing and screaming in pain.

The NYPD denies this, and says he "put his legs under the scooter and then claimed falsely he was trapped."

Medical treatment was delayed, but Douglas was eventually taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was treated in the emergency room. The Times quotes Gideon Oliver, a committee member of the NLG, which has been providing legal aid to the protesters.

Mr. Oliver said the police took Mr. Douglas to the Seventh Precinct station house before bringing him to the hospital for medical treatment. Another lawyer for the guild who went to the station house to try to speak to Mr. Douglas and others said his request was denied, Mr. Oliver said. “That is very bad,” he said.


  1. HELL! You can see the cop pull forward on his foot and then leaves the scooter on his foot! If he ‘placed’ it there why didn’t the cop just pull forward out of the way (no one was blocking his way).

    1.  Actually, you can see that the cop is moving *slowly*.  AT least one reporter on the scene says that the scooter *hit*, but didn’t *run over* the guy.  It seems weird that his foot was under the front tire, then quickly under the rear tire. 

  2. He is writhing on the ground before the scooter passes him.  Something could have happened to him before the video starts, though.  Also, would a scooter really stand stable with one wheel on a writhing foot?    

  3. At 6 seconds in, you can see both his feet in front of the scooter pointing at 12 o’clock, then at 13 seconds you can see him moving both his legs under the back tire.

    When he’s fully flipping out his feet are now pointing at almost 3 o’clock.

  4. OK, so an NYPD officer hurt a lawyer? Who was part of a lawyer’s guild? Did they intentionally target the most able person to bring about a civil suit?

  5. NLG observers are not part of the protest, and are specifically trained to not take part in the actions (except as is necessary to record incidents).  They are there to be an independent recorder of the events for later use in court if necessary.  While it is possible this one deviated from his training–these are volunteers–it would be well outside the role of a legal observer to engineer a scene or otherwise take actions to further a cause.  They observe and report, that’s it.

    The other factor worth considering, it is a felony in nearly every jurisdiction to drive at someone with a vehicle.

    1. Hans The other factor worth considering, it is a felony in nearly every jurisdiction to drive at someone with a vehicle.

      Not a lawyer but purty shure it’s illegal to lie down in the street as well.

      1. >Not a lawyer but purty shure it’s illegal to lie down in the street as well.
        That is an interesting point.  If someone were lying in the street, it would still be illegal to run over them intentionally.  Generally, the use of a vehicle as a weapon is considered deadly force.  I have never heard of a case involving a scooter, but with other vehicles police and prosecutors have claimed driving at someone is assault with a deadly weapon.  To be a legitimate use of force, the police would need to describe a threat posed by those in the street to justify a threat of deadly force.  

  6. Tylerdudon: “Have much of an agenda, Xeni? If I make a video of my effed up commute thanks to these protestors, will you post it? Since when was NYC the place the passed federal tax code?”

    I think intitially it made symbolic sense, Wall Street and what not.

    “Do people think that if they hang around long enough, Jamie Dimon is just going to come out and surrender? Why not move the protest to DC, where they can actually get in the faces of the people who make the rules? PS, I don’t see any occupy Detroit protestors. How much bailout money have the US auto makers paid back again? Oh yeah, as soon as they finish paying off Eminem for the rebranding, they’ll get around to it. I get that there are some major problems with the current administration and Congress. I totally agree. But for God’s sake, go to the capitol. Please… occupy a place that actually makes sense.”
    Agreed. I think a lot of this is horribly misdirected. Personally, I think we need student loan reform, cheaper education and health care reform. A great chunk of what becomes crippling debt are student loans and medical bills.

    1. I felt the same way at first, but as you say Wall Street is a symbol and keeping the protest there keeps the focus on the problem. This morning I overheard two old guys at the post office in my western PA town of 200 and one said something like, “Those protesters up there are right about some things. Not the communists, they’re no good. But the other ones are actually right about some things.” I suspect keeping it a Wall Street is waking up a populist feeling that these money men are crooks who have been screwing us over and cheating their way to wealth.
      A good move eventually would be to either move or clone the protest to K Street. 

  7. If he was really faking, wouldn’t his medical assessment have been, “you’re fine,” not, “my god, your legs are broken!” How does one spontaneously break their legs to stage being run over?

    1. I was wondering about that, too.

      Does anyone know of any confirmation that he has a broken leg (or legs)? That would pretty much settle it.

      1. Or if he had other injuries that looked scooter related, ignore any night stick blows as he was taken to the precinct and questioned before they decided to have any medical treatment.

        Of course the problem is NYPD said they never pepper sprayed people, then they only happened to get the women while targeting phantom men, then it was isolated as the same crazed cop randomly sprayed more people on the street, and once the public review board saw the tapes and said they were investigating suddenly NYPD decided maybe it was something that needed an internal investigation.

        It is hard to believe either side, but given how much the NYPD has done on camera they they then deny I’d believe the runover/hit person over NYPD until more detail came out.

  8. “Why not move the protest to DC, where they can actually get in the faces of the people who make the rules?”

    There is an Occupy DC, which has a permit sorted out for 4 months. All they have to do is coordinate their activities with groups that have already booked the park for other activities during that period. (Our Park Police are unflappable–they have a lot of experience.)

    People don’t realize how little a demonstration in DC is worth, though. Bureaucrats don’t care who’s chanting in front of their buildings. The people, ultimately, who make decisions are Senators and Representatives. They only care about what the people who can vote for them and who are likely to bother to vote think. That is why the Occupy movement has a chance of being effective–it’s about the bread and butter issues that can motivate voters and it’s putting a fire under the feet of local politicos in their bases.

    1. The protests are at Wall Street. This is exactly the place where the rules are being made. Or did you think that democracy was still working and that government has this revolting casino of greed and fraud under control? 

      1. Protest at the ballot box, too. If your district elects someone sleazy, it’s on you. Demonstrate in your town, cultivate good people to run, work for them, vote. The bottom of all this is people not bothering to vote, voting for the guy with the prettiest wife, or letting themselves be led around by fears and prejudices. 

        One thing that bothers me about both the Tea Party and the OWS:  not taking any responsibility for things being the way they are. All politics is local. Occupy your own town! If your Congresscritter makes a lot of bendover votes, fire ’em.

        Check our your Senators and Representative here: http://www.aclu.org/action-center 

    2. “The people, ultimately, who make decisions are Senators and
      Representatives. They only care about what the people who can vote for
      them and who are likely to bother to vote think. That is why the Occupy
      movement has a chance of being effective–it’s about the bread and
      butter issues that can motivate voters and it’s putting a fire under the
      feet of local politicos in their bases.”

      True enough, but that happens to be corporate interests. Politicians don’t listen to the people who elect them, because with enough money, exposure and a good smear campaign they can get elected and re-elected. No politician would ever truly agree to do what is best because the money for their campaigns would quit flowing. Perhaps this is cynical, but when was the last time you heard a politician take a stand on any real issue.

      I don’t know what the solution is, but here in Canada we have a Prime Minister who very obviously doesn’t have a clue why people are protesting.

  9. I thought it was fake at first, and the next 5 or so times I watched it, but now I think it’s likely real.

  10. I’m leaning towards the guy getting hit by the scooter, but not getting his foot run over. Seems too “sports foul”-like to me.

  11. He was definitely on the ground first, not sure why tho. It appears that the cop didn’t see that his front tire ran over one of Ari’s legs. Then he stopped the scooter because Ari’s leg was stopping his rear tire from moving. 

    1. Watch again. His legs are completely away from the scooter when it stops. He’s laying on his right side. This is the leg that gets ‘run over’. See image 1.

      Next, he slides his right leg under his left leg towards the gap under the scooter. See image 2.

      Finally he jams his leg under the scooter and cries bloody murder. See image 3.

      So, beyond all that… let’s consider what a person would do. Instinctively, if something ‘broke’ my leg I would endeavor to get away from it as fast as possible.

      I know, because it’s happened. I dragged myself away. Didn’t think about it, just did it. If you shock yourself on a door knob, you pull back. It’s instinct.

      If my leg was trapped, I would probably start kicking or pushing or doing anything I could to ameliorate the situation. You would sit up and try and pull your leg out or move the scooter.

      A rational person would tuck their legs in AWAY from danger, not splay them out towards it. You would instinctively recoil away from pain and if you couldn’t you’d fight like hell to get away.

      You wouldn’t lie there like a pro wrestler writhing in agony , sprawling as best I could so everyone could see my leg under a bike.

    2. Scooters have small tight tires. Believe me, you’d know if you rolled over a leg, and at slow speed it wouldn’t even happen.

    1. I’m not so sure. Eyeballing it and some rough Google searches, that looks like a Vectrix scooter, and while I’m not finding official info, the weights I’ve seen listed in a couple places put the weight of the bike at 425-450 pounds. Add another 200 or so pounds for equipment and human, and you’re looking at six or seven hundred pounds.

      I don’t think it’s at all out of the question that three hundred to three hundred and fifty pounds of force (assuming equal bike weight distribution front and back) on the leg could break it.

      Edit: I accidentally a number

  12. I call phoney baloney on that too. I’m sure we’ll never hear an admission if it is fake. That’s probably why the guy is refusing visitors in jail. Give it time to propagate on the internet and then just slink back quietly into the crowd.

    1. @boingboing-8414dafd31c57970c5f7cc4f56b17209:disqus  He’s not refusing visitors in jail. The police are refusing visitors permission to see him in the hospital.

  13. I can’t tell if he is faking or not. The video simply isn’t enough data. I’d actually would have guessed that he would not have been writhing so much, I would have expected more of an in-shock reaction but I’m very much not a medical person *at all*. Until there’s a medical report or until more detailed video comes out this will be a wash. If the cop did run him over then there will deservedly be a large lawsuit over it. 

    But with that said, observers from the NLG are not to be taken as impartial observers. The NLG is an activist organization. The fact that I agree with most of their historical work and much of their modern stuff doesn’t make that less of an isse. Observations by them are inherently not as reliable as more genuninely impartial observers. 

    1. Look at the video Blaine (4th comment) posted.  Watch him transition from being under the front wheel to under the back wheel.   The whirring of his legs is utterly inconsistent with any experience I’ve had or seen regarding damaged joints, ligaments, bones or tendons.  There’s the flailing of the legs between wheels and there’s the odd paralysis of his supposedly agonizingly crushed legs.  Funny how he can keep his entire lower body so still….  injured people do not behave like that.  Especially people “”””injured”””” in such a low energy, low pressure low impact event.

    2. Can you give any evidence for NLG not being reliable? Which observers would you say are more reliable, and under what criteria? And what is your definition of impartial? Since the NLG provide evidence for lawyers who actually have to go to court and win cases, don’t you think they have a pretty strong incentive to be careful to act in a way that is not prejudicial to a case?

  14. I’m thinking that at this point, it would be a good idea to wait to see what medical professionals have to say. Although it will be really funny to watch all the amateur video forensic technicians suddenly suffer collective amnesia if it turns out he really was injured.

    1. I’m guessing HIPPA prohibitions will severely limit commentary from any medical professionals.  So.  Why don’t you join the club of reasonably intelligent persons rendering opinions based of common life experience?

      What do you think causes Ari to move himself from in front of the front wheel of the scooter to the back wheel of the scooter?  Do you think it was an unfortunate but random result of agonized flailing, or was it, somehow, the product of conscious intent? How did he go from perpendicular to parallel to perpendicular without willful action? 

      1. “So.  Why don’t you join the club of reasonably intelligent persons rendering opinions based of common life experience?”

        Sure, just let me know when they get here, k? I might not see them through the crowd of possibly intelligent people who nevertheless seem ready to rush to judgment based on a few minutes of hand-shot video and probably a good dose of bias against OWS. Thanks.

  15. Some just want their fair share, others think their fair share is all they can grab.
    The circus begins.

    In Ring Number 1: The Fair Share party voices their opinions in person and finds out they have been infiltrated for over 10 years.
    Bring out the clowns !

  16. Looking at the video posted by Blaine, It would seem that he got hit by the bike which was driven right into the crowd and he was knocked on the ground, perfectly explaining why he was “lying on the ground in the street.”  If this bike weighs 200-400 lbs not including the officer, I’d be writhing in pain and doing the “curley shuffle” also.  When he wriggled under the bike, the officer then ran him over.  He could have just arrested him right then, but it looks to me like he ran the guy over. 

  17. The key questions to me seem to be- Is his leg broken? He seems to be already screaming 2 seconds in which might be why the videographer zoomed in on this. Why didn’t the motorcycle cop move his motorcycle when he realized he was on top of the guy (whether he put his leg in harm’s way or not). The police on scene did not seem to take his injury  (which has been reported) with any seriousness. There seemed to be a desire to restrain but not to help. I don’t want to damn him or the cops here, but there are obvious questions here that no one in a blog comment by looking at this video can hope to answer.

  18. the video appears to show him writing and screaming in pain.

    This man is truly dedicated to his work if he can write while screaming in pain.  My hat is off to him.

  19. I’ve had my leg run over by a 2-ton car and it didn’t hurt a bit so the guy crying about a scooter was immediately suspicious to me.  The alternative camera angle doesn’t help his case in my view.

    That being said, the weight of the scooter is mostly irrelevant.  What’s more relevant is whether it’s technically possible for that scooter to break a foot, ankle, or leg bone given the right conditions.  The answer to that is yes, it is technically possible.  So IF his leg was actually broken, his screaming might be real and not that of a drama queen.  But the alternative video doesn’t seem to support this.

    1. I’ve had my leg run over by a 2-ton car and it didn’t hurt a bit

      YouTube video or it didn’t happen.

    2. 2 tons equals 4000 lbs.  You had a thousand pound tire roll over your leg “and it didn’t hurt a bit”? 
      Are you Long John Silver, or allergic to the truth?

      1. 2 tons equals 4000 lbs.  You had a thousand pound tire roll over your leg “and it didn’t hurt a bit”?

        I had a car drive over my foot and it didn’t hurt a bit. *shrug*

        1. Then you won’t mind having a car drive over your shin, right?  Wrong. 
          Same force, different structure.

          1. Regardless, his lawyer has now told us that his injuries were minor — nothing was broken. So the point is moot.

            [Edit: if you like, here’s a news story describing someone’s leg being run over without being broken: http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x645313972/Wife-arrested-for-driving-cab-over-husbands-leg That fits with my intuition — most of the time a car’ll break your leg, but there are exceptions. It’s not as simple as 4000 lbs. ÷ 4 = broken leg; cars have suspensions, their fronts are heavier than their backs, etc.]

      2. You do realize that the whole 4000lb isn’t pressing down your leg/foot at once, right?  I’ve known 2 people who had their foot run over and were fine. Of course, YMMV, and your foot/leg could break or worse.

        1. Indeed, which is why I referred to a tire putting 1000 lbs of weight on his leg.  4ooo lbs divided by 4 tires equals 1000 lbs per tire.
          A foot is not a leg.  One is much better suited to resist compression.  Try having a buddy stand on your foot, then have him stand on your shin.

  20. As evidenced by the the last two Xeni posts; I know now its safe to say the OWS has lost its relevance and has now completely turned into a circus… Its a shame, because the debate that should have happened will now be overshadowed.

    1. Lost it’s relevance?  I think exposing corrupt cops thugging for banksters is as relevant is it gets.  I have no interest in debating with robber barons and corporate thieves. 


    Of course, no one’s quite certain what happened, because crucial moments are obscured by all the photographers crowding in to get a better shot.

    How very Twenty-First Century.

  22. Honestly, in the beginning it reminded me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIM9w4mv0wo

    It looked like a faked injury.

    But in the 2nd half, yeah, it looks like his foot is under a scooter. (A scooter? Really NYC? What’s next, little streamers for the handle bars and Hello Kit Tasers?) How it got there? I dunno. Police can be dicks, but some people fake or exaggerate events to further their goals. It is really too hard to tell which it is at this point.

    Fun fact, one time I accidentally ran over a dog on my bike. It was one of the craziest damn things that has ever happened to me. The dog was ok. Oh – and I ran over a dog my first time driving in drivers ed. It was ok too. It was sitting in the middle of the road, would not move after honking, and the instructor said, “Just go slow, it will move.” Well – it didn’t, but it was so small the car just passed over it and the dog was fine – or at least in the same condition we found him.

  23. Regardless of whether its fake or not, the very fact that there is the continued specter of a large and hostile police presence is creating an environment ripe for these sorts of events.

    I don’t see how this is a winning strategy for the cops at all, nor for politicians, nor for the corporations being protested. I mean, whoever is ultimately pulling the strings, they aren’t even acting rationally self-interested, which is the most un-1% thing I can imagine. :P

  24. Hard to say either way.

    But it certainly looks like a helmetted officer is swinging a baton at him at about 0:20…

  25. People don’t realize how little a demonstration in DC is worth, though. Bureaucrats don’t care who’s chanting in front of their buildings. 

    Probably they are used to it. Habituation is probably the greatest risk to the protest. I’ve worked in places where there are all always a handful of protesters about protesting something or another. I can tell you, you walk by protesters every day, you stop noticing them after a while. Occupy is not a ‘small number of people’, though, so different rules apply. That said, while BoingBoing is covering the heck out of this event, most of the other news sources have dropped back to only one story a day or so. Which is fine — certainly there’s other stuff going on the world — but it may not be great for the protesters.

  26. In the Vimeo video I think you can see that he is already screaming, writhing and in pain before his leg is under the wheels. His legs are really really close to the heavy looking scooter’s wheels though. The cop instead of paying extra attention to not hurt this guy (whom he possibly just knocked over a few seconds earlier) just drives on. A few seconds later the scooter stops with its second wheel on the guys right foot or leg. The cop reacts by getting off the scooter and starting to chase the surrounding people away, ignoring the injured man on the ground, leaving the scooter’s wheel on the poor guy! Next I can see the scooter is lying on the side, away from the injured man. A group of cops is aggressively arresting the man, flipping him over on his stomach, paying no attention to his leg whatsoever. Just doing it ruthlessly (and as quickly as posssible, I guess). Ouchgoddammit!

  27. Chiming in with those who say it looks hinky. Who gets knocked to the ground by a scooter traveling at less than walking speed? The two different times when you can see him with his leg anywhere near the wheels, his leg is both free of and in front of them, and if he moves his leg at all it’s *towards* the wheel. AND he makes no effort to kick the scooter off his supposedly injured leg.

    There are plenty of clear-cut instances of police officers gone wild in protest situations like this. This is not one of them, and makes other more credible instances seem questionable.

  28. As I recall, the National Lawyers Guild was listed as a “communist” organization during the McCarthy era. ACLU observers were sometimes referred to as “communists” by drug-bust-happy police in the 1970s (I’m thinking of incidents at the Nassau Coliseum as reported by Rolling Stone or some such).

    In other words, same as it ever was.

    1. You do know that the charges of “communist” against the NLG weren’t just mudslinging, don’t you? They were pretty much a classic example of a communist front group (at least back in the days of Stalin).


      More recently, longtime NLG member Lynne Stewart was convicted of aiding terrorists. In short, don’t get the impression that they are just ACLU liberals. I would not at all put it beyond an NLG lawyer to fake an injury for political purposes. (In the Vimeo clip it sure looks like he faked it.)

  29. come you know that running people over on mopeds and motorcycles is specific tactic of the police, its happened in rnc 2004, in new york a few weeks ago, in the la police riot…

  30. Regardless of what you think happened to him viz the scooter, one thing is clear – at 0:22 in that video, you see a cop wind up to hit him with a nightstick – doesn’t look like he hits him, maybe realizing how many cameras are on him, but it shows what the mentality of the cops on the scene is:  The penalty for lying on the ground writhing in pain is to be beaten on the spot.

    Or perhaps it’s the preferred medical intervention – prior case history has shown that sufficient application of nightsticks leads to the patient stopping writhing.  Clearly battery is an effective analgesic.

  31. Update: According to Ari Douglas’s lawyer, Yetta Kurland, he didn’t break any bones: “[he was treated for] lacerations to his entire face and injuries to his legs and feet. Luckily nothing was broken.”

    She also said, “Even if he did place his leg underneath the scooter, it does not give
    the police a license to pin him down and charge him with felony criminal
    mischief and resisting arrest.”


    1. Re: Lawyer’s comment
      Well… He was creating a disturbance, interfering with a police officer and damage to police property. That seems enough license to arrest him.

      On the other hand, the police seem to have been rather rough while pinning him.

      I’ve tested the shoelace theory with a similar scooter and it is possible to trap a lace under the rear tire by stretching the full lace out and carefully positioning the tire, but that’s no excuse for kicking the scooter over.

      1. “Lacerations” is a very broad term, especially when used by a non-medical professional. You can judge for yourself how serious his injuries look in the various photos and videos — he is not, for instance, visibly bleeding. It looks like his face got a bit of road rash as he was being apprehended.

        Ari Douglas is fine. His lawyer has now told us nothing was broken, and offered no good reason, beyond theatrics, why he was screaming his head off like someone in unimaginable agony: “It’s clear that he was in distress, that he was trying to get away.” She has all but admitted that he placed his leg under the motorcycle on purpose, and the videos agree. If he was hit by the scooter, it was a low-velocity nudge of the front wheel against the wedge of his foot, and while that may technically count as battery he was not seriously injured. Ari Douglas is frankly an embarrassment to the OWS movement, and the faster we move on from him the better.

        It does OWS no good — and I am a staunch supporter of OWS — to adopt a “Down with pigs” message. People like cops. People rely on cops. Cops are among those being screwed by Wall Street shenanigans and anti-union maneuvering. Many cops are sympathetic with the movement. While real abuses should of course be spotlighted, we should not assume bad faith on the part of the police, should not make them into the enemy. Conservatives would like nothing more than for public perception of OWS to shift from “Common folk who are fed up with the super-rich” to “Dirty hippie anarchists who don’t like authority,” and making it all about the inevitable friction with law enforcement that comes with any large protest is a great way to help that along. Remember who the bad guys are: the ones looking down on cops and protesters alike from their balconies and skyscraper windows.

        (Also: I’m gonna say this right now. Do not do a Google Image search for [lacerations] to see what they look like. Seriously.)

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