BART officer shoots unarmed man in back. DA calls it “pretty clear” homicide

oscar grant video

On New Years Day, Johannes Mehserle, a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer, shot and killed an unarmed Oscar Grant in the back after a New Years Night altercation on a train.

The above report from KTVU in Oakland, shows footage from a video taken by an anonymous passenger and given to the the lawyer for Grant’s family (who has filed a $25 million wrongful death suit) is clear. Grant was shot in the back while lying on the ground

KTVU has more video.

The officer has resigned, has received death threats and currently is under protection and being moved from location to location for his safety.

Let’s cut to the chase. Emphasis added.

District Attorney Tom Orloff told CNN on Wednesday the incident is a “pretty clear” homicide and his office will focus primarily on Mehserle’s mental state prior to the shooting.

More from CNN

Some of the young men were handcuffed, but not 22-year-old Oscar Grant. The video from the anonymous passenger shows Grant seated on the floor with his back against the wall. BART protests turn violent

Grant holds up his hands, appearing to plead with police. Burris said Tuesday that Grant was asking police not to use a Taser.

“He said to them, ‘Don’t Tase me; I have a 4-year-old daughter,’ ” Burris said.

The interaction on the video is not audible.

Seconds later, police put Grant face-down on the ground. Grant appears to struggle. One of the officers kneels on Grant as another officer stands, tugs at his gun, unholsters it and fires a shot into Grant’s back.

Oakland exploded in protest last night, at least one car was burned and shop windows were broken.


  1. POLICE STATE – The citizens of Greek cities have been protesting a police shooting there. The difference is that in all but the most repressive societies on Earth such naked violence against the citizenry is uncommon. In our country it is considered normal. Black uniformed, hobnail boot wearing, machine gun toting, sadistic thugs made anonymous behind face shields have replaced ‘Peace Officers.’ War has been declared by a repressive regime against its own people. When an airport is like a prison with ‘cavity searches’ probably being what will be the next indignity we will be forced to endure – When we have to live in fear of being beaten and murdered by Police State Goons are we a Free People? I think not. If there had not been a video – this would have been just another day. The L.A. Gun Squad murdered ‘undesirables’ decades ago and everyday in America people are brutalized and murdered by sadistic goons with badges. It is quite rare for a murdering cop to face any kind of discipline because the authorities always call repression of the people – ‘Justified’.

  2. >..,.What is the purpose of a riot?

    by Latoya Peterson

    I have a piece on the Oakland shooting scheduled to run on Monday from a frequent contributor. However, I stumbled across this article in the SF Gate and wanted to throw it out to the room to discuss.

    A protest over the fatal shooting by a BART police officer of an unarmed black man mushroomed into several hours of violence Wednesday night as demonstrators smashed storefronts and cars, set several cars ablaze and blocked streets in downtown Oakland.

    The roving mob expressed fury at police and frustration over society’s racial injustice. Yet the demonstrators were often indiscriminate, frequently targeting the businesses and prized possessions of people of color.

    They smashed a hair salon, a pharmacy and several restaurants. Police in riot gear tried to control the crowd, but some people retreated along 14th Street and bashed cars along the way.

    The mob smashed the windows at Creative African Braids on 14th Street, and a woman walked out of the shop holding a baby in her arms.

    “This is our business,” shouted Leemu Topka, the black owner of the salon she started four years ago. “This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?”

    Wednesday night’s vandalism victims had nothing to do with the shooting death by a BART police officer of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day – but that did little to sway the mob.

    “I feel like the night is going great,” said Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco, one of the demonstrators. “I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back. It’s for the murder of a black male.”

    Sykes, who is black, had little sympathy for the owner of Creative African Braids.

    “She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life,” Sykes said. She added that she did have one worry for the night: “I just hope nobody gets shot or killed.”

    What the hell was the point of destroying a black owned business to protest the murder of an unarmed black man?

    As citizens, we have the right to peacefully assemble and peacefully protest. And the article mentions that the protest started off peacefully – but a smaller offshoot of participants started the violence, mainly against local businesses and parked cars. Some of the cars belonged to the city of Oakland, but others belonged to private citizens, just going about their lives.

    Something that always strikes me about those who incite a riot is that they always seem to do it in our neighborhoods. If you want to tear something down after an egregious event, that feeling is understandable. (I don’t feel like it should always be acted on, but that’s another post.) However, why is it that the violence quickly spirals out of control and starts attacking innocents?

    Perhaps I am biased because it was only in the last three or so years that Washington, DC finished cleaning up the traces of the last round of riots we went through. A lot of the older folks have painful memories of what it means when a protest starts of well, then turns to chants to burn the city down.

    Readers, what are your thoughts?

    (Photo Credit: Lacy Atkins for the Chronicle)

  3. I lived in LA for 25 years, the first five of them somewhat on the wrong side of the law. I had friends who were beaten by cops, often for no apparent reason. I know what it is to live in fear. And I know people of color fear cops worse than I did.

    On the other hand, I now live in a place where police rarely shoot anyone. They’re civil, and even polite. When they come to my home, they don’t even unsnap their holsters, much less draw their guns. Why? Because most of the people they might encounter in the course of a day are people they grew up with. Even the drug addicts and petty thieves are their acquaintances.

    We have more guns per capita than LA, but people don’t tend to shoot each other where I live. Cops have little to fear from the populace, and the populace looks at cops as their friends– no reason not to. Of course, we’ve never had a riot, either, so no one burns down anyone else’s place of business.

    That police state you refer to is a culture. It isn’t universal, and it could be changed. But change has to start with citizens, not with cops. If people don’t respect each other, they won’t respect cops– and cops won’t respect them. Respect comes from relationships, and relationships come from regular contact– and forming communities where people know each other. It won’t change overnight, and it’ll take work. But change IS possible.

  4. I do not fear the police. I am glad they are out there protecting my family’s freedom to move about freely as good citizens. This was a tragic incident that is still under investigation. I am confident that the Alameda County D.A. investigation will be thorough and accurate. I might ad that I celebrated safely at home with my family and friends on New Years Eve to avoid thugs like BART Police had to deal with on that plateform. Has anyone considered that Mr. Grant’s actions might have contributed to his own fate?

  5. Oscar should have begged for Johannes Mehserle not to use his glock 40 cal. rather then the taser. J.M. must have felt so powerful having Oscar on the ground begging for mercy. I think J.M. must have felt euphoric at the time. Drunk on his own power. He’s so powerfull that he’s in hiding with his whole family. J.M. has ruined the life of Oscar Grants family, his own family, his own life, and has taking a life. There’s only one way to make it right. Johannes Mehserle if your reading this you know what you need to do. You can’t live with this. Do this country the biggest favor you could do. Be brave for the first time in your life, and make it right. stop hiding and face the world. I want you to show us how brave you are from the podium on live TV. Don’t mess this up too and taser yourself (accidently).

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