Mother of Hayward man killed by BART police in 2009 reacts to George Floyd’s death

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Tonight, we are hearing from the mother of Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old Hayward man who was shot and killed by a BART police officer in 2009, unarmed.

Since her son’s death, Wanda Johnson has been advocating against police violence.

Johnson said she’s had a lot of sleepless nights since seeing George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. A tragedy that reminds her of her own son’s untimely death.

We want to warn you, some of the images you’re about to see may be disturbing.

“It brought back so many memories of them trying to demonize him then trying to have other officers there and none trying to control the situation,” Johnson said.

It was Jan. 1, 2009 when Wanda Johnson’s son Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a BART police officer at the Fruitvale station in Oakland.

The incident captured on cell phone video. 

Grant seen lying face down on the station platform was unarmed.

The officer claimed to use his taser instead of his gun. He was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

11 years later, a similar case involving an unarmed black man in Minnesota. George Floyd, also caught on camera.

“I started praying and really crying because I saw there was no compassion or no movement for someone screaming out for help by those who are hired to protect and serve,” Johnson said.

Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Johnson says the charges are not enough.

We spoke to Civil rights attorney John Burris who represented Johnson’s family in the Fruitvale shooting and a number of police death cases.

Reporter: “Why might a prosecutor decide for a lesser charge of murder? do you think it’s because it is more realistic to get a conviction?

“Well certainly the prosecutor has to make a judgement about whether they could get a conviction or not and based upon the evidence in front of him,” Burris said. “So yeah, he might have made the decision in his own mind it would easier to be able to get a conviction on a lower offense than it would be on the higher offense.”

Burris believes the evidence from this video would support more serious charges but it would be more challenging to prove.

“It is certainly a more difficult case to prove first degree murder. There’s no question about that,” Burris said. “You have to have the intent, the malice a forethought that has a law that requires that’s generally difficult to do in a police case that starts from an event situational.”

Back in Oakland, a tribute to Oscar Grant.

The mural was unveiled last June, 10 years after his death.

In the last decade, Johnson has traveled to Washington D.C. to push for changes to police policies.

“This is unacceptable justice that America you know we are supposed to be the land of the free and opportunity and yet years this still goes on,” Johnson said.

Johnson started the Oscar Grant Foundation, a non profit that works to bring law enforcement agencies and their communities together to prevent further violence.

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