Jury Rejects BART Shooting Damages

A federal jury turned aside the civil rights lawsuit by the father of Oscar Grant III, who was shot in the back and killed by a transit officer during a 2009 arrest at an Oakland train station.

The 10-member jury unanimously found that Grant’s father, Oscar Grant Jr, who was in prison at the time of his son’s death and remains in prison, did not have deep family ties to his son.

In addition, the jury said the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer, Johannes Mehserle, did not act with a purpose to harm Grant, “unrelated to a legitimate law enforcement objective,” when he shot Grant.

Mehserle who shot Grant in the back while the young man was pinned to the ground said his mistook his gun for a Taser.  Mehserle was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served about a year in Los AngelesCounty jail, half his two-year sentence.

The shooting occurred during New Year’s Day in 2009 when Mehserle and other officers responded to what was thought to be a fight at the Fruitvale station platform in Oaklqand.

The shooting by Mehserle, who is white, and the young Grant, who was black, sparked protests and ultimately a movie, “Fruitvale Station.”

Grant’s father sought damages from BART for his son’s killing.  He is currently service a life sentence for a 1985 killing.

BART settled with the mother and daughter of Grant for nearly $3 million.  A separate suit by friends of Grant who were on the train platform at the time of the shooting was settled for $175,000.

Case:  Johnson v. BART, No. C09-901EMC


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