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Oscar Grant: Family want prosecutors to reopen the case

OAKLAND — The family of Oscar Grant, shot and killed by a BART police officer at a train station 11 years ago, want prosecutors to reopen the case, saying what Grant underwent as he was detained mirrors what happened to George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked national protests.

Then-BART Officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of fatally shooting Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, as he lay facedown on a Fruitvale BART station platform, on New Year’s Day 2009.

Mehserle resigned shortly after the shooting.

Mehserle and other officers were responding to a report of a fight on a train. He maintained he mistakenly grabbed his gun as he was reaching for his Taser.

Grant’s death, caught on cell phone cameras, sparked international outrage over police shootings, especially those involving black men at the hands of white police officers, and ushered a new era of people demanding more police accountability.

Grant’s family settled a lawsuit against the Bay Area Rapid Transit District in July 2010 on behalf of his daughter for $1.5 million. His mother settled a case with the agency for $1.3 million in June 2011.

Following Grant’s death, BART police implemented reforms, including establishing an independent police auditor and a citizen police review board to review citizen complaints as a way to provide a higher degree of accountability over its officers.

Just before his death, a BART police officer knelt on Grant while detaining him, similar to what happened to Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck as he was being taken into custody in May 2020, Grant’s family said in a release Saturday.

Mehserle, found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, was released from custody in June 2011 after serving 11 months.

On Monday, Grant’s family said they will gather at the Fruitvale BART station, 3401 East 12th St. in Oakland, to ask Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to reopen the Grant case. The gathering is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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Author: Peter Hegarty

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