An unarmed civilian, Oscar Grant was fatally shot by BART officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California, United States, in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Oscar Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was prostrate and allegedly resisting arrest. Officer Mehserle stood, drew his gun and shot Grant once in the back. During his court testimony, Mehserle claimed that Grant then exclaimed, “You shot me!” Grant was unarmed. Grant was pronounced dead the next morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
The events were captured on multiple digital and cell phone cameras. The footage was disseminated to media outlets and to various websites, where it was watched hundreds of thousands of times. The following days saw both peaceful and violent protests.
The shooting has been variously labeled an involuntary manslaughter and an execution. On January 13, Alameda County prosecutors charged Mehserle with murder for the shooting. He resigned his position and pleaded not guilty. The trial began on June 10, 2010. Michael Rains, Mehserle’s criminal defense attorney, has claimed Mehserle intended to fire his Taser, but mistakenly shot Grant with a pistol when he thought Grant was reaching for a gun. Pretrial filings argue that his client did not commit first-degree murder and asked a Los Angeles judge to instruct the jury to limit its deliberations to either second-degree murder or acquittal.
On July 8, 2010, the jury returned its verdict: Not guilty of second degree murder, not guilty of voluntary manslaughter, and guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The sentencing date was set for August 6th.
Oscar Grant had been celebrating New Year’s Eve with his friends on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, and was returning to the East Bay in the lead car of a BART train bound for Fruitvale. BART offered extended service and a special “Flash Pass” for the New Year’s Eve holiday. At approximately 2:00 a.m. PST, BART Police responded to reports that up to 12 people were involved in a fight on an incoming train from the West Oakland BART Station and the participants were “hammered and stoned.”
Officers removed Grant and several other men suspected of fighting from the train and detained them on the platform. Grant and another man ran back onto the train after being detained, but Grant voluntarily returned to the platform when officer Tony Pirone grabbed the other man and dragged him from the train. Pirone handcuffed Grant’s friend, angering other riders. Pirone then lined up Grant and two other men against the wall. According to Mehserle’s motion for bail, Pirone confirmed with the train operator that the men detained were involved in the fight. When five other officers, including Johannes Mehserle, arrived at the Fruitvale station, they found the situation chaotic. Mehserle’s partner on duty, Officer Jon Woffinden, said the “incident was one of the most frightening he had experienced in his 12 years as a police officer.”
Mehserle’s motion for bail, citing the police investigation, stated:
“Officer Pirone directed Officer Mehserle to arrest two of the individuals who had not been handcuffed. One of the individuals to be arrested was Oscar Grant, and Officer Pirone’s direction to Mehserle was overheard by Grant. Grant, upon hearing that he was under arrest, attempted to stand up, but was forced to the ground face first. Both Officer Mehserle and Officer Pirone attempted to restrain Mr. Grant and to seek his compliance by ordering him to put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed, but Mr. Grant resisted and refused to submit to handcuffing. Officer Mehserle was pulling at Mr. Grant’s right hand and arm, which remained under his torso near his waistband. Mr. Grant had not been searched by any officer for weapons, either prior to his initial detention or after being seated near the wall.”
A cell-phone video broadcast on local television station KTVU on January 23 showed what appeared to be Pirone rushing towards Grant and punching him in the face several times two minutes before he was shot. Grant’s family alleges in their civil claim against BART that an officer threw Grant against a wall and kneed him in the face. Pirone’s attorney stated that Grant provoked Pirone by trying to knee the officer in the groin and by hitting Officer Marysol Dominici’s arm when she attempted to handcuff one of Grant’s friends. Witnesses testified that Pirone was the aggressor during the incident. Burris also disputes Pirone’s account and claims that Grant and his friends were “peaceful” when the train stopped. Grant then raised his hands while seated against the platform wall. Additional footage from a cell phone was presented in court showing Pirone standing over the prone Grant before the shooting and yelling: “Bitch-ass nigger.” Pirone and his attorney say he was parroting an epithet that Grant had said to him.
BART police had been on edge before the shooting because two guns had been recovered in separate incidents along the rail line over the previous hour. Immediately before he arrived at Fruitvale, Mehserle was involved in an incident at the West Oakland station where a teenage boy with a semi-automatic pistol had fled from police and jumped off the station platform, breaking several bones.
While dozens of people shouted and cursed at officers from the stopped train, Mehserle and Pirone positioned Grant face-down. According to Pirone, Grant was disobeying instructions and cursing at officers. Witnesses stated Grant pleaded with BART police not to shock him with a Taser. Pirone then knelt on Grant’s neck and told him that he was under arrest for resisting an officer.
Mehserle’s motion for bail, citing the police investigation, stated:
Pirone said he told Grant “Stop resisting, you’re under arrest, put your hands behind your back.” At that time Pirone said he heard Mehserle say, “Put your hands behind your back, stop resisting, stop resisting, put your hands behind your back.” Then Mehserle said, “I’m going to taze him, I’m going to taze him. I can’t get his arms. He won’t give me his arms. His hands are going for his waistband.” Then Mehserle popped up and said, “Tony, Tony, get away, back up, back up.” Pirone did not know if Grant was armed. Mehserle had fear in his voice. Pirone had never heard Mehserle’s voice with that tone. Mehserle sounded afraid.
The motion also states that the man sitting next to Grant also told police he heard Mehserle say “I’m going to taze him.”
Mehserle then stood up, unholstered his gun, a SIG Sauer P226, and fired a shot into Grant’s back. Immediately after the shooting, Mehserle appeared surprised and raised his hands to his face; according to Michael Rains, Mehserle’s criminal defense attorney, several eyewitnesses described Mehserle as looking stunned. Witnesses say Mehserle said “Oh my god!” several times after the shooting and many saw him put his hands to his head.
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. According to one witness, Grant yelled, “You shot me! I got a four-year-old daughter!” Grant died seven hours later, at 9:13 am, at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
There is disagreement whether or not Grant was handcuffed before he was shot. The day after the shooting, BART spokesman Jim Allison said that Grant was not restrained when he was shot. Court filings by the district attorney’s office say that Grant’s hands were behind his back and that he was “restrained and unarmed” but do not say he was handcuffed. The attorney for Grant’s family claimed that Grant’s hands were restrained by Mehserle immediately prior to the shooting. The family’s claim against BART alleges that Grant was handcuffed only after he was shot.
Oscar Grant was born on February 27th, 1986 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Grant
2 + 27 +2+0+0+8 = 39 = his personal year (from February 27th, 2008 to February 26th, 2009)
39 year + 12 (December) = 51 = his personal month (from December 27th, 2008 to January 26th, 2010) = Fatally shot.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
how he obtained/lost his heart’s desire = OT = 62 = Handcuff. Resisting arrest.