The family of Oscar Grant, the unarmed, 22-year-old Black man who was shot to death near Oakland, Calif., on New Year’s Day, wants the Bay-Area transit authority to pay $50 million for its police officers’ actions.
Attorney John Burris, says that the agency, its chief of police and three officers played a role in snuffing out an innocent, compliant young man. Burris said Monday that the way Bay Area Rapid Transit Officers Johannes Mehserle and Tony Pirone behaved was "more egregious than I initially thought."
Grant was one of several young Black and Hispanic men who had been pulled off a BART train by police investigating an alleged fight. Grant lay face-down on the station platform when Mehserle fired his weapon. Several people recorded the ordeal on their cell-phone cameras.
Mehserle, who shot Grant, quit the force on Jan. 7; he has been charged with murder. His attorney says Mehserle actually meant to fire his Taser.
The defendants named in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland on the Grant family's behalf, are Marysol Domenici, Pirone's partner, and Police Chief Gary Gee. Burris wrote that an unidentified officer "directed a racial slur at one of the young men" being held.
An attorney representing the officers in civil case said that Grant's death was "a tragic accident." He added, "BART has been discussing mediation with Mr. Burris in an attempt to bring closure to the Grant family and will continue to do so."