The family of Oscar Grant, the Black man who was slain by a BART police officer in 2009, held a press conference today, demanding Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley charge a second officer involved in his death with felony murder.
“We have been seeking justice for almost 12 years now,” Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, said at a news conference Thursday morning on the steps of the county courthouse near Lake Merritt.
The family says BART officer, Anthony Pirone, should be charged because Pirone’s “hostile” and “violent” actions caused brain damage to Grant by slamming him against concrete. Citing an autopsy report that said Grant sustained prominent edema and a brain hemorrhage from the impact.
Oscar Grant III was killed in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. BART officer Anthony Pirone kneed Grant in the head and forced the unarmed Grant to lie face down on the platform. While Pirone held Grant down in a prone position, Mehserle drew his pistol and shot Grant in the back. Grant was rushed to Highland Hospital in Oakland and pronounced dead later that day. The events were captured on multiple official and private digital video and privately owned cell phone cameras. Owners disseminated their footage to media outlets and to various websites where it went viral. Both peaceful and violent protests took place in the following days.
Leading up to the shooting, Grant was on the train and was recognized by his friend Katie, which in turn caused an enemy from a nearby gang to recognize Grant and proceed to fight him. However, some of the other passengers on the train, along with Grant’s girlfriend Sophina, were able to break up the fight. Shortly afterward, the train conductor announced to the passengers that the police had been contacted and were on their way to the station at which they were stopped. As the passengers began to exit the train, Grant and his girlfriend saw the police walking towards them and split up. As they got closer to the train, police started to pick out people they believed to have been involved in the fight. Officer Pirone walked up to two African-American men and ripped the jacket off one. Pirone threw three people against the wall and then turned to the train, yelling for everyone involved in the fight to exit the train and come to him. Everyone remained on the train, so Officer Pirone walked into the train to see if there was anyone who looked as if they were involved in the fight. Pirone saw Grant dressed in an outfit similar to that worn by those who were sitting against the platform wall and therefore removed him.
On January 30, 2010, Alameda County prosecutors charged Officer Mehserle with second-degree murder in their indictment for the shooting. Mehserle resigned from his position and pleaded not guilty. The trial began on June 10, 2010. On July 8, 2010, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of the murder charge and voluntary manslaughter.( wiki)
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