Writings By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor On The Death And Aftermath Of The Young Hayward Father Shot And Killed On New Years Day, 2009 By An Officer Of The Bay Area Rapid Transit District


Johannes Mehserle and Oscar Grant III


With The Controversy Continuing, BART Board Selects A Committee To Review Its Police

From the Berkeley Daily Planet
January 15, 2009

The BART Board of Directors took further action on Monday to address the growing reaction to the New Years Day shooting death of 22 year old Hayward resident Oscar Grant by a BART police officer, approving a four-member board committee to review BART police actions and to look into possible police reforms.

The BART board has come under severe criticism since Grant’s death for perceptions that it did not move fast enough in response to the shooting.

The meeting came two days before Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer widely seen on cellphone camera videos shooting the unarmed Grant in the back, was arrested near Lake Tahoe, Nevada and then charged with murder in the killing by the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

At Monday’s special meeting, BART Board president Thomas Blalock appointed a four member BART Police Department Review Committee consisting of board directors Carole Ward Allen as chair and Joel Keller, Lynette Sweet, and Tom Radulovich as members. Among other things, the committee is charged with reviewing basic training and certification requirements of the BART police force, as well as investigating civilian police review boards and independent police auditors for consideration and possible adoption by BART.

The creation of the board police review committee came at a special meeting in which the BART board discussed, in closed session, a state lawsuit against BART by Grant’s family.
While the brief board meeting on Monday lacked the large, emotional crowds and heated speeches that marked last week’s meeting, several speakers did attend and continued to criticize BART, the BART police, and what they perceived as inaction by local law enforcement officials to arrest and charge Mehserle.

One of the speakers was Traci Cooper, who said she was the mother of a 22 year old man who was one of the men detained with Grant by BART police on the Fruitvale BART station platform on New Years Day. Cooper said she was in touch with others who had been detained on the platform.

“The boys are not doing well at all,” Cooper told BART board members, her voice breaking as she talked. “We have taught our children to submit when they are confronted by police. That’s what they did. They submitted, and one of our children was killed.” Cooper said that many of the witnesses to the Grant shooting death had been traumatized by the event. She also said that her son, who she would not identify by name, has a metal plate in his head, and while under arrest at the platform, was threatened by a BART policeman, who put a taser to his head. “If that taser had gone off, it could have killed my son,” she said. “All of the officers who were on the platform that morning should have been arrested.”

The detention and arrests, and the shooting of Grant, all came after reports of two groups of young men fighting on the BART train that night. The train continued to the Fruitvale station, where it was halted by BART police. BART police or organizational representatives have never revealed how BART police determined which individuals to take off the train and detain at the Fruitvale station, and whether it was ever determined that Grant himself had participated in the fighting.

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