10 years later, new report alleges second officer’s role in Oscar Grant shooting

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OAKLAND (KRON) — Seven months after the deadly 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, an Oakland-based law firm completed a 144-page independent internal affairs investigation into the New Year’s Day incident at the Fruitvale BART station.

Several BART passengers captured former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shooting Grant in the back that night and killing him.

But the report says it was another officer that helped fuel the situation.

Police were responding to a train operator notifying dispatch that a group of black men were fighting on the train and that there were no weapons involved.

Seven officers showed up, including Mehserle and Officer Anthony Pirone.

The report alleges chaos and pandemonium in the minutes leading up to the shooting.

The report says:

“The evidence shows that Officer Pirone, in particular, by his conduct and inappropriate verbal statements, contributed substantially to the escalation of the volatile atmosphere on the platform.”

“There was no weapons, no one had told them there were any weapons, he should have let those kids go, but he chose not to and as a consequence of that, he created a conflict with Oscar and the rest of the boys,” said attorney John Burris.

As for Mehserle’s defense that he intended to use his taser and not his gun, the report says the conclusion can be made from a close viewing of the enhanced video that he was intending to pull his firearm and not his taser, as he can be seen trying to draw it at least two times.

On the final occasion can be seen looking back at his hands on the gun/holster to watch the gun come out.

At the time of the shooting the video clearly depicts Grant with two hands on his back in a handcuffing position.

Attorney John Burris represented the Grant family in their civil case against BART.

“Johannes Mehserle claimed that Oscar had a gun, and he did not have it,” Burris said. “And, so, I always thought that his claims that he meant to use his taser was a contrived defense.”

Mehserle was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.

In response to the newly released report, BART says:

“Since the tragedy, BART and its police department have worked diligently to ensure that officers receive the proper training, support and oversight necessary to respond appropriately and effectively to challenging situations.”

BART adds that Mehserle did serve time in prison for his role in the shooting and that former Officer Pirone was terminated soon after the investigation was finalized.

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