A former U.S. Army Ranger arrested during demonstrations in Oakland last week and later hospitalized is reluctant to become the face of protests there, his friends said on Monday.
Kayvan Sabeghi, 32, was in critical but stable condition when he was brought to the hospital late last week and was immediately put in the intensive care unit, Highland General Hospital spokesman Curt Olsen said.
He remains in the intensive care unit but is now in fair condition and improving pretty quickly, Olsen said.
Sabeghi was arrested and hospitalized about a week after another U.S. military veteran, former Marine Scott Olsen, was badly injured in clashes with police that helped spark a wave of escalated unrest in Oakland.
The group Iraq Veterans Against the War has said that Sabeghi was detained during disturbances that erupted late on Wednesday in downtown Oakland and was charged with resisting arrest and remaining present at the place of a riot.
The group says Sabeghi told them that he was beaten by police with nightsticks.
Brian Kelly, who owns a Bay Area brew pub with Sabeghi, told Reuters that his friend and business partner suffered a lacerated spleen after police jumped him and then denied him medical treatment for about 18 hours while he was in custody.
A spokeswoman for the Oakland Police Department said that the incident is under investigation.
'HE HATES THIS LIMELIGHT'
He hates this limelight that he's in right now, said David Goodstal, another of Sabeghi's business partners at Elevation 66 Brewing Company. Everyone has an agenda and they want to do something with his story.
Sabeghi was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Rangers, according to Army spokesman Paul Prince. He served from November 2003 to November 2007.
He was based in Korea at the time of his discharge, according to U.S. Army Human Resources Command spokesman Kevin Arata, and was awarded a parachute badge and a Korea Defense Service Medal.
In footage of Sabeghi's arrest captured by local KTVU-TV, he is seen telling police that he served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
That footage shows Sabeghi, who is wearing glasses, dressed in khaki shorts, a T-shirt, and a black scarf around his neck, talking with a line of riot police with his hands in his pockets.
He is later shown on the ground with several police officers in riot gear on top of him, arresting him.
Sabeghi's name was listed by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office as among those arrested on Wednesday night.
In the wake of his arrest and injury, Sabeghi has received widespread attention, with people from Indiana to Pennsylvania leaving well-wishes on a Facebook page We are all Kayvan Sabeghi.
But Sabeghi is not on Facebook himself, said Goodstal.
We are not that crowd. We're not social media people, he said.
Sabeghi has been telling friends and family he expects to be released from the hospital on Tuesday, Goodstal said.
I chuckle because none of us think he'll be out tomorrow, Goodstal said, noting that he remains in the ICU. He's optimistic and in good spirits.