Shock and outcry continue in the Bay Area the week after a report on 2009’s most controversial shooting was made public.
Relatives of Oscar Grant, who was killed on New Year’s Day by a White cop’s bullet to the back, joined the Nation of Islam and others Thursday in pressing the California legislature for action. Grant’s videotaped shooting, as he lay unarmed on the ground of an Oakland train station, helped spark the call for a state oversight committee to monitor the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police.
A lawyer for Johannes Mehserle, who fired the shot that killed Grant after a train disturbance, claims Mehserle meant to use his Taser, rather than his pistol. Mehserle is scheduled to go to trial for the killing next year.
Efforts to pressure the state legislature into monitoring BART follow the release of an independent report that evaluated BART officer responses in the Grant shooting. The Meyers Nave legal agency, hired by the city of Oakland to conduct an impartial review, has found that:
-- The BART policy manual had not been updated, in some sections, since the ‘70s.
-- Officers at the scene of the Grant killing “failed to work as a team, reducing their effectiveness by working independently…”
-- Officers at the scene “did not follow recommended procedures.”
Among Meyers Nave’s recommendations for BART are an update in police procedures and instruction on supervising duties, additional training and even requirements for the placement of Tasers on uniforms.
The list of recommendations “is so basic that it begs the question of how the BART Police Department monitored its activities - and why there wasn't oversight and accountability,” observes an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle. “…As it stands now, the department's failures may have led to a man's death. That's nothing to take lightly.”