Most US residents have probably heard about this incident by now. But we haven’t had a discussion about it, and perhaps should.
Grant was killed by a BART police officer early New Year’s Day after he and several other young men had been detained in the Fruitvale Station after an altercation. Grant, unarmed, was face down on the ground when Officer Johannes Mehserle, who is white, fired a fatal shot into his back.
Police are investigating the shooting, and a decision from the Alameda County district attorney’s office on whether Mehserle will be charged is expected within two weeks. Mehserle resigned after the shooting and has not made a statement.
The case has elicited a strong reaction, especially among African Americans, who long have said they frequently are stopped, handcuffed, beaten - and even shot - because of their race.
Grant’s attorney believes race played a role in how he and the other young men were treated by the BART police.
“I don’t think the officer shot the gun because Oscar was black, but I think the way he approached the situation in an aggressive way was based on race,” said attorney John Burris, who is representing Grant’s family in their claim against BART. “If they were white, the officer might have asked them what was going on, rather than throw them in handcuffs.”
Mark Harrison, a police procedure consultant who has testified in use-of-force cases, said he, too, thinks the situation at the BART station escalated because of race.
There are many videos which capture the shooting, but perhaps the clearest one can be found by Googling these words:
indymedia oscar grant video
The video should be the first link, which is hosted by Indybay.org.
I am not linking to the video in part because several witnesses use profanity, but you should also bear in mind that a man is killed on screen.
The shooting occurs roughly at 1 minute 25 seconds.