Killing of Black man by transit officer being reinvestigated

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California prosecutor announced Monday that she will reopen an investigation into the killing of a Black man at a train station by a transit officer 11 years ago.

Oscar Grant, 22, was fatally shot in the back by Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer Johannes Mehserle while on the floor of a train station on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Mehserle was charged with murder, but a Los Angeles County jury found him guilty only of involuntary manslaughter and he served 11 months.

Mehserle claimed he mistakenly grabbed his gun instead of his Taser.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s announcement came just hours after Grant’s family held a news conference at the train station asking her to investigate the role of another officer in Grant’s death, the Mercury News of San Jose reported.

The family wants charges to be filed against former officer Anthony Pirone, who pinned Grant down with a knee to his neck in a manner similar to that used in the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

“We have listened closely to the requests of the family of Oscar Grant,” O’Malley said in a statement.

A 2009 BART police internal investigation report, released last year after a public records request, concluded that Pirone contributed significantly to Grant’s shooting, the newspaper reported.

Pirone was fired for his role and his statements that contradicted video surveillance and other officers’ and witnesses’ accounts of that night. The report found that he disregarded his training and rushed through the initial investigation, starting a “cascade of events that ultimately led to the shooting of Grant.”

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson. “We should not have to wait another 11 years. … We were told then that it should happen, and it should happen now.”

The Associated Press could not immediately reach Pirone. A phone listing for him was disconnected.

O’Malley said she has assigned a team of lawyers “to look back into the circumstances that caused the death of Oscar Grant. We will evaluate the evidence and the law, including the applicable law at the time and make a determination.”

The transit agency later agreed to pay Grant’s daughter $5.1 million in a settlement.

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