Oscar Grant Funeral Photo
OSCAR GRANT’S FAMILY filed a $50 million lawsuit against Bay Area Transit Agency for his wrongful death. Oscar Juliuss Grant, III was the first unarmed African American killed by police in 2009. It happened on the very first day, even before the sun rose on the promising new year. The 22‑year‑old father and some friends were out together via Bay Area Rapid Transit when an altercation is reported to have arisen between some train commuters around 2:00 a.m. PST. Police who responded removed the young men from the train and lined them against the wall of the Fruitvale train station. Events that followed ensured that the new year for another black family started with a funeral.
Many people across the world support Oscar Grant’s family in their justice quest, including my own family. We know firsthand what it is like to lose a member due to police misconduct, although the news will not report Larry’s wrongful death and we are denied any records or accountability from law enforcement. Family members seem to live under the threat of violence for speaking about it, and we endure stalking and acts of terror, but police refuse to investigate these incidents. Unlike with Oscar’s case, there were no cameras that we know of to capture the last moments of life for Larry Neal, a Black mentally ill heart patient who was secretly arrested for nearly three weeks until his still-unexplained death in Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tennessee in 2003. The absence of video left room for a cover-up that continues. This writer blogs prolifically while she and her 86-year-old mother live under self-imposed house arrest for protection during her family’s seige. We plan to seek help from theUSDOJ this week. http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com
The video of Oscar Grant’s shooting and the riot that erupted are at the below link:
Oscar Grant: 1st Unarmed Black Man Police Killed in 2009 – Next?
Johannes Mehserle was arrested on a murder charge on January 13 amid public outcry, and Oscar’s family has now filed their multi-million lawsuit. But no amount of punishment to the officers responsible for Oscar Grant’s death or monetary award that may be paid to his family will ever recompense for his murder. No punishment or compensatory payments can bring back this beloved young man who worked two jobs to provide for his young daughter and went out with his friends to welcome a new year that he perceived as being full of possibilities.
Oscar Grant was a dad, a son, a friend, and now he is dead. Nothing can change that. Grant’s last words expressed concern for his daughter who must now grow up without a father. “According to one witness, Grant yelled, ‘You shot me! I got a four-year-old daughter!’ Grant died seven hours later at Highland Hospital.” (Wikipedia)
AP carried the news of the lawsuit on March 2. An excerpt from the article is below.
GRANT’S FAMILY FILES $50M SUIT AGAINST BART
AP – March 2, 2009
SAN FRANCSICO — The family of a man slain by a Bay Area transit police officer early New Year’s Day has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit. Attorney John Burris says Oscar Grant’s family filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Oakland on Monday against the Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency, former officer Johannes Mehserle, BART police chief Gary Gee and officers Tony Pirone and Marysol Domenici.
BACKGROUND ON THE OSCAR GRANT CASE
Officers handcuffed the men they pulled off the train at Fruitvale Station on January 1, except they did not immediately handcuff Oscar Grant. He had reportedly admonished his friends as they were being removed from the train to just be cool and cooperate with the officers and everything would be fine. Perhaps Oscar speaking that way targeted him in the B.A.R.T. officers’ mind as a leader.
Luckily, the entire episode was witnessed by hundreds of other commuters, some of whom had video cameras and cell phones, leaving police little to no opportunity to fabricate the circumstances surrounding Oscar’s fatal shooting. After he were handcuffed, officers stretched Oscar out on the concrete pavement and held him down, although Oscar was not resisting and had raised both hands to the officers in complete surrender. Once secured on the floor, former officer Johannes Mehserle stood over Oscar and fired one fatal shot in his back.
Wikipedia reports that the 40 caliber bullet from Mehserle’s semi-automatic handgun entered Grant’s back, exited through his front side and ricocheted off the concrete platform, puncturing Grant’s lung. Mehserle had just been involved in another incident immediately before he arrived at Fruitvale at the West Oakland station where a teenage boy had fled from police and jumped off the station platform, breaking his bones.
Mehserle says it was all an accident. At Mehserle’s January 30 bail hearing, his attorney, Mr. Rains, told the court that Mehserle had only carried a Taser for a few shifts prior to the January 1 shooting, and mistakenly deployed his service weapon when Mehserle thought Grant was reaching for a gun. Wikipedia reports, “After viewing the shooting from multiple angles, police use-of-force expert Roy Bedard commented: ‘I hate to say this, it looks like an execution to me’ and ‘It really looks bad for the officer.’ Although more than 100 people are killed by California police a year [mostly minorities], criminal charges are rare, and this is the first murder prosecution for an on-duty killing in California in decades.” Wikipeida’s link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BART_Police_shooting_of_Oscar_Grant
Thankfully, the commutors got film of Oscar’s death. The authorities seem to be responding appropriately by arresting the officer who shot this young man, although some question whether more arrests should be made in connection with the violence.
Oscar Grant’s death not only saddened and outraged African Americans. The lady who captured his death on film and delivered it to the media was white. Many of the young people seen demonstrating following Oscar’s funeral were white. People of all races and socio-economic backgrounds desire justice in America. Rioting is an inappropriate way to address grievances, however. It is better to gather peacefully and petition government for CHANGE. Another way to do that is through the courts, as Oscar Grant’s family is now doing with their lawsuit. The family initially asked for $25 million, but increased their demand subsequent to additional findings related to the case. This writer wishes them much success with that.
Hopefully, when the people of America recognize the high cost of police brutality in terms of wrongful abuse and deaths of citizens like Oscar Grant, grieving families and friends who share abuse victims’ pain or are left to mourn their loss, the possibility of property loss due to social unrest, increased racial tensions, and disengagement between law enforcement and the community, the citizenry will demand that our system of justice actually renders equal justice to all Americans and honors the words students recite every morning: “. . . one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.”