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  • BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

    I'm surprised the anti-cop crowd hasn't already commented on this.

    BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting
    Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Monday, January 5, 2009


    BART's police chief asked for patience from the public on Sunday after video footage surfaced showing one of his officers fatally shooting an unarmed man who was on the ground on a station platform on New Year's Day, and after an attorney for the dead man's family said he planned to sue the transit agency for $25 million.

    Chief Gary Gee said he, too, had seen video images of the shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward. But Gee said he found the footage to be inconclusive, and he said his investigators still needed to interview a key witness - the officer himself.

    That officer, a two-year veteran, has not been publicly identified and has been placed on routine administrative leave. BART officials have said only that his handgun discharged at about 2:15 a.m. Thursday at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland and that the bullet struck the unarmed Grant, who had been detained with several others.

    Officials have not said whether the officer intended to shoot Grant. One source familiar with the investigation said BART is looking into a number of issues, including whether the officer had meant to fire his Taser stun gun rather than his gun. Alameda County prosecutors are conducting their own investigation, as is standard in officer-involved shootings.

    "We are taking this investigation very seriously," Gee said during a news conference at BART headquarters in Oakland on Sunday. "As frustrating as it is, I want to stress that we cannot and will not jeopardize this case by discussing details before the investigation is complete."

    Gee spoke after attorney John Burris held his own news conference at his Oakland office, where he was surrounded by Grant's family members and friends and witnesses to the shooting.

    Burris said he plans to file a $25 million claim this week against BART - a legal precursor to a civil lawsuit - because, he says, witness statements and video footage recorded by other passengers make clear that the shooting was unjustified.

    "It is, without a doubt, the most unconscionable shooting I have ever seen," said Burris, who has won several damage awards against Bay Area police departments and worked on Rodney King's civil suit against the city of Los Angeles. "A price has to be paid. Accountability has to occur."

    "It's pretty clear from the tape and from witnesses," Burris said, "that (Grant) wasn't doing anything of a threatening nature to the officer."

    Burris said he has interviewed several young men who were with Grant when he was shot on the platform of the Fruitvale Station and has gone to the station with them to walk through a re-enactment. Burris said he has also viewed video from three different cameras.

    Burris said he will file suit on behalf of Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, and Grant's 4-year-old daughter, Tatiana.

    David E. Mastagni, an attorney for the officer, declined to comment Sunday.

    Grant was a butcher at Farmer Joe's Marketplace in Oakland's Dimond district, family members said. They said he loved to play basketball and video games and hang out with friends. He had been in some trouble, they said, but was doing better in recent months in an effort to be a good father.

    According to sources, Grant had a prison record. Details were unavailable Sunday.

    The officer
    The officer who shot Grant has been with BART for about two years, is in his mid-20s, and has not been accused in the past of using excessive force, according to a source familiar with the investigation. The source described him as physically fit and respected by peers within the organization.

    A source also revealed Sunday that BART police had been on edge before Grant's shooting because two guns had been recovered in separate incidents along the rail line in the hour before the shooting.

    In one of the incidents, a teenage boy with a semiautomatic pistol had fled from police and jumped off the West Oakland Station platform, breaking several bones while landing. In another, the source said, a revolver was recovered after a fight at the Embarcadero Station in San Francisco.

    Chief Gee said officers were called to the Fruitvale Station at 2 a.m. Thursday when police got a report that two groups of riders were fighting on a train that had just left the West Oakland Station and was headed for Dublin/Pleasanton. The officers then detained several people, the chief said.

    Mario Pangelina Jr., a 23-year-old Hayward man whose sister, Sophina Mesa, was Grant's girlfriend and the mother of his child, said he saw some of what led to the shooting. He said officers had Grant against a wall on the platform. One officer briefly choked Grant, and someone pointed a Taser at him as well, Pangelina said.

    Pangelina quoted Grant as saying, "Please don't tase me, please don't shoot me, I have a daughter."

    Apparent struggle
    Video footage taken by passengers, first shown by KTVU television, shows officers forcing Grant to the ground and trying to hold him down. The officer who shot Grant appears to try to put cuffs on him before drawing his weapon and firing. In the video, Grant appears to struggle with the officers, though it is unclear exactly what he was doing.

    Burris said a single bullet went through Grant's lower back, hit the ground and ricocheted through his upper body. Grant died at Highland Hospital in Oakland several hours later.

    Among other things, BART police are looking into the possibility that the officer who shot Grant thought he was pulling the trigger of a Taser stun gun, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

    BART officials declined to say whether the officer was carrying a Taser - a device that sends out two electrical probes and can incapacitate its target - when he shot Grant. The agency uses Tasers but does not have enough of the expensive devices to give one to every officer.

    Normally, officers who finish a shift give their Taser to an officer starting a shift. But with so many extra officers working on Wednesday and Thursday in expectation of holiday revelry, there were not enough Tasers to go around.

    It is unusual for police officers to mistake their handgun for a Taser, but not unprecedented. Tasers are similar to many guns, with a trigger that must be pulled, a safety device that must be switched off, and laser sighting.

    Many Bay Area police departments that use Tasers - including BART - force officers to take precautions, such as wearing them on the opposite side of their strong hand and facing backward. This requires officers to reach across their body to retrieve them.


    Video of shooting
    To view a videotape of the shooting obtained by KTVU, go to links.sfgate.com/ZFUR.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/...BA0R153LGU.DTL&tsp=1

  • #2
    Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

    Taken from another message board I read:

    http://www.ktvu.com/video/18406930/index.html
    If the link works, it should lead you to a video that shows two different angles in it. The first angle is shown in the video linked above. The second angle is from inside the train further up the track, and focuses on the shooting. The link is to a liberal SF news station, so please ignore the comentary.

    The Officer appears to begin searching the Suspect on the ground. Then reaches for his handcuffs. Suspect appears to try to rise up. Officer stands, draws, fires, pauses, then holsters. When the shot is fired, there is another Officer near the Suspects upper body/head. It looks to me like the Officer thought he was using his Taser.

    My thoughts go out to the young Officer. I don't think this was an intentional OIS, but I don't see it ending very well for him."

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

      And...

      Protests Over Shooting of Unarmed Man by
      Transit Police Turn Violent in Northern California
      Thursday, January 08, 2009

      E-Mail Print Share:

      AP/Noah Berger, San Francisco Chronicle


      Jan. 7: Police tackle a protester during a demonstration in downtown Oakland, Calif.
      OAKLAND, Calif. — Protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer turned violent Wednesday night with windows broken, fires set and train stations closed.

      A few hundred protesters took the streets of downtown Oakland to condemn the shooting and call for criminal charges against 27-year-old officer Johannes Mehserle. Oakland police reported at least 15 arrests.

      Mehserle resigned from the transit agency shortly before he was supposed to be interviewed by investigators Wednesday.

      Click here for photos.

      Mehserle is accused of shooting 22-year-old Oscar Grant of Hayward, who was lying face-down on the station platform when he was shot and killed early New Year's Day. Mehserle was one of several officers responding to reports about groups of men fighting on a train.

      Protesters gathered in the afternoon at the Fruitvale BART station where the shooting occurred last week. It was peaceful at first but began to turn after a splinter group left that site and marched downtown.

      Protesters set fire to a trash container and tried to overturn a police car, smashing the front window. Police attempted to disperse the crowd and smaller groups of protesters marched to different areas.

      RelatedStories
      Man's Fatal Shooting by San Francisco Subway Police Prompts Probe, Plans for $25M Lawsuit Photo Essays
      Riots Erupt in California Some protesters threw bottles, a window of a fast-food restaurant and other downtown stores were smashed, at least three cars were set on fire and many other automobiles were damaged. Police in riot gear threw tear gas to try to break up the demonstration.

      "The crowd started to become more agitated, more hostile, started throwing stuff at the police," Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said. "We gave a dispersal order four to five times over a 20-minute period, then we had our officers go in and start making arrests."

      Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums went to the protest scene Wednesday night to urge for calm. He and several council members then led a group toward City Hall and further addressed them.

      "Even with our anger and our pain, let's still address each other with a degree of civility and calmness and not make this tragedy an excuse to engage in violence," Dellums said. "I don't want anybody hurt, I don't want anybody killed."

      Mehserle was scheduled to meet with agency investigators on Wednesday, but did not show up. His attorney and union representative turned in the resignation letter.

      John Burris, the attorney for Grant's family, said the timing of the resignation was not a surprise to him.

      "He doesn't want to give a statement because BART could've ordered him to do so, and if he didn't, he could be terminated."

      Now that he is not employed by BART, Mehserle can exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and not speak to investigators.

      Mehserle's attorney did not immediately respond to calls for comment Wednesday.

      The shooting is also being investigated by the Alameda County District Attorney's office.

      Dellums later directed the city's police department to conduct a third investigation into Grant's killing and to treat the incident as a homicide.

      "My sense of it is that people for whatever reason do not have confidence in this investigation as it goes forward," he said. "When I learned what was happening, I summoned the Oakland Police Department and said, 'Look, this is a homicide that happened in Oakland, let's investigate this like we would any other. Whether or not that will give people greater confidence, I don't know. We'll see."

      Grant's family has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART and want prosecutors to file criminal charges against Mehserle.

      Amateur video of the shooting have played frequently on local news stations, giving even more publicity to the incident. Burris said Wednesday that one of the latest videos of the shooting shows that Mehserle did have a Taser on his left side, but he went for a gun on his right side, instead.

      "The video supports the position we are taking and eyewitnesses' testimony that the officer deliberately went for his gun and there's no mistake about it," Burris said. "He didn't reach across for his Taser. He couldn't have been thinking about that. He went directly for his gun."

      Earlier in the day, about a thousand of Grant's friends and family members attended a funeral for Grant, the father of a 4-year-old girl, at a Hayward church.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

        We were discussing it in the other thread, but sentiment is so high here in the Bay Area right now about this, that it probably deserves its own thread.
        Do or do not, there is no try....
        -- Yoda, Dagobah

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

          Just going off of what has been printed or read.. I'm not sure what the heck the guy was doing with his gun out in that situation. It's not like he was alone and the bad guy was on the ground.. so you either have accidental discharge of the weapon or a straight out execution.

          But I just love the riots..lets focus on the Illegal activities of the general public in making sure this killer get's put to justice eh? At least in the LA Riots you had a Not Guilty verdict etc which pissed everyone off. (Which was probable the correct verdict.. but that's a different story).. In this case they haven't done anythign yet legally and the riot's may be slowing down justice in this case because of the distractions.. OR causing the prosecution to go too quickly and Mess something up...
          |TG|ARMA Pathfinder
          ..now where did I put my keys?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

            If you watch the videos, it's inexplicable why he drew in the first place when the suspect was restrained and immobilized on his stomach. The most plausible possible explanation I have read so far is that the officer had intended to draw his Taser and stun the guy, but instead drew his firearm by mistake.

            I can't really comprehend any other explanation, unless the officer just raged and killed the guy for no reason. There were three officers on him and he was immobilized on the ground. Don't shoot me, bro!
            "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
            He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

            - Attributed to General George Patton, Jr.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

              If true, what a horrible mistake. I find it hard to believe that a transit officer would shoot a man in the back on purpose. I'm surprised so many people would actually believe this was intentional, but so goes mob mentalities.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                Originally posted by AMosely View Post
                If true, what a horrible mistake. I find it hard to believe that a transit officer would shoot a man in the back on purpose. I'm surprised so many people would actually believe this was intentional, but so goes mob mentalities.
                I don't know, everywhere I've been discussing it people seem to think he was trying to draw his Taser, but then get upset at how different the two are (and how the cop hasn't been charged yet, but a civilian would certainly have been).
                I can ADS using more than a 2x without significant stutter! This was a good patch.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                  A new video of the shooting offers the clearest view so far. This is disturbing.
                  ~~ Veritas simplex oratio est ~~
                  No matter how far a wizard goes, he will always come back for his hat. --T. Pratchett

                  <---- You know you're getting old when you rely on your forum meta-data to remind you how old you are.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                    I bet he was trying to be ready to shoot, and unconsciously put his finger on the trigger... which doesn't take much to squeeze accidentally when the juices are pumpin. I bet he also thought he could incapacitate him without killing him.

                    Either way, sucks hard for both families... and SF's pocketbook.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                      Why would you get "ready" to shoot someone who's unarmed lying on their stomach?

                      I guess the "Taser theory" is plausible, but honestly, after watching the video... it looks like the cop wanted to shoot the guy. I'm not seeing the cop freak out or anything after the shot goes out.
                      A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

                      "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                        Originally posted by xTYBALTx View Post
                        Why would you get "ready" to shoot someone who's unarmed lying on their stomach?

                        I guess the "Taser theory" is plausible, but honestly, after watching the video... it looks like the cop wanted to shoot the guy. I'm not seeing the cop freak out or anything after the shot goes out.

                        The taser theory is laughable to me. An accidental firing is the only thing I can fathom... or maybe that he just wanted to wound him?? Maybe he was crapping his pants with everyone yelling and everything, and then pulled the gun with the intention of regaining control - by waving it around or whatever.

                        <shrug>

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                          Damn, my post got eaten. =/

                          Too lazy to rewrite, mostly I was agreeing with Whiskey.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                            Rince: Wow, that is probably the most disturbing video of the incident I've seen yet.
                            "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
                            He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

                            - Attributed to General George Patton, Jr.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: BART appeals for calm as footage shows shooting

                              Originally posted by Rincewind View Post
                              A new video of the shooting offers the clearest view so far. This is disturbing.
                              Holy crap.

                              The look of disbelief on his face after the discharge makes it clear that it was not intentional.
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