Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Oscar Grant Shooting

Via PostBourgie: Amnesty International declared the death of Oscar Grant a clear cut abuse of police power. Grant was unarmed, with a officer restraining him. Another officer shot Grant once in the back. The injury was the cause of Grant's death.

“When an unarmed man is shot in the back after police put him face down on the ground, it is the time for authorities to demand action, not patience. Days after the incident, the officer still has not been interviewed. The delay in this critical part of the investigation hints at the callousness to the worth of human life to a public that is all too familiar with racial profiling, police brutality and cover-ups. Whatever the final investigation reveals, the bottom line is that there is never justification to shoot an unarmed person, especially one who is restrained. It is an obvious violation of the most basic human rights standards, and a clear cut abuse of power.”

Several cellphone cameras caught the shooting. Grant appears to be handcuffed. CNN claims Grant wasn't.

The officer that fired the shot submitted his resignation. The Bay Area Rapid Transit accepted the resignation without argument. Clearly they want the officer to disappear. Attorney John Burris filed a $25 million suit, on behave of Grant's family.

I am trying to figure out a logical reason the officer felt the need to shoot. Grant was restrained and on his stomach. How this this officer feel threatened by Grant? Several people were using phone cameras. What could have possibly made the officer think this was the appropriate time to shoot Grant? It makes more sense to think the officer acted in anger than performed what he thought was good police work.

The incidents brings race and police brutality to the forefront. What a political nightmare. What a sad story. Grant was a father. His child will never get to know his dad.

Holly has a post on Grant. She underwent a similar experience.

Update: the investigation into the shooting is finished.

Oscar Grant Shooter Johannes Mehserle Arrested

More On Johannes Mehserle

Johannes Mehserle's Bail Set at $3 Million

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At January 08, 2009 6:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

no excuses there, its all on film. things like this echo in the minds of people as pivotal moments in "the history of now". The trial itself will be interesting, as in the video, the officer himself looks just as surprised as everyone else (as in, an accident perhaps, over excitement etc) Either way, even if such things were the case, the officer is still just as guilty. An officer of the peace should be trained well and not even have the slightest possibility of his/her gun discharging unintentionally.

Just my opinion.

At January 08, 2009 7:49 AM , Blogger West, By God said...

There have been similar situations where an officer drew his firearm and pulled the trigger, when he meant to pull his taser. Most police departments now require officers to carry tasers, which look and feel very similar to a normal gun, on their weak side, in a cross-draw holster. This means if you are right handed, you reach to your left side to get your taser, or your right side to get your gun. An officer in a high stress situation, such as physical suspect apprehension often suffer from tunnel vision caused by their high levels of adrenaline. Grabbing the wrong weapon is an easy mistake for an officer with inadequate training/experience to make.

Even giving the officer the benefitr of the doubt, and saying it was an honest mistake and he really only meant to zap Grant, the officer should be facing charges. The "taser excuse" is clearly no good in this situation, because from my perspective even the use of a taser would not be justified any more than shooting him. However, improper and excessive taser use has sky-rocketed in recent years, and events like this are likely one of the unfortunate outcomes.

At January 08, 2009 11:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've held a police issue taser. And a police issue pistol. The weight is different, the grip is different, and on the ones I was shown, so are the safeties- I would imagine primarily so an accidental shooting is impossible. I don't buy it. And neither will anyone else.

At January 08, 2009 12:17 PM , Blogger West, By God said...

I have also held a various taser models, as well as nearly every duty sidearm used by police across the country. I agree with you that they are substantially and obviously different. But you have not had to draw either a taser or a sidearm in a high-stress situation.

I'm not saying the "taser" defense excuses anything here, just that human beings have a difficult time with critical decision making while under the influence of a huge shot of adrenaline. The fact is, when faced with a situation like this, an officer will act quickly and decisively, according to his training. Unfortunately, it is difficult to train officers to choose between two holstered, trigger-operated, pistol-shaped weapons in those instances.

I'm not arguing that the officer isn't at fault (he clearly used excessive force even if the murder itself was an accident), but rather police departments need to review their policy of issuing tasers.

Of course, I could also be totally wrong... he may have drawn and fired his gun on purpose.

At January 08, 2009 3:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing. This is why there will continue to be widespread bloodshed of the innocent before things get better. That there are people who watched this video, know the facts, and still want to reach for excuses and explanations including the lame 'taser' discussion is a sad statement of where we are in today's world.

A human being was executed while in no position to do anyone any harm. A police officer reached for his gun, not a taser and fired it into his back.

But our built in racism and unwillingness to face the ugly truths of our society is so deep, that we'd rather fabricate some other explanation than face the truth. And so, innocent people will have to die, riots will break out, and likely some officers killed before we grow the collective balls to be honest.

The officer involved should be in custody at this moment as would any other citizen even suspected of being guilty in a murder. And where is he? Chillin' not even charged. Because we must find out what could have possibly motivated this first, right? I mean afterall its only a black kid who probably deserved it anyway so no need to get carried away with emotion. I'm sure we'll find the nice white officer was himself a victim of stress or something similar and meant no harm.

Amazing. Hope the retaliation doesn't touch any of you personally. But in some ways I hope it does so you wake up!

At January 08, 2009 3:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no sympathy for the officer here. I agree with what others have already said, that an officer should be well trained and know the difference between his firearm and a taser. However, police officers are not the most highly educated people in our vast country. Only Charleston, South Carolina requires that their officers have a four year degree. The rest of the country's officers are often high school "thugs" who want a license to carry and use a firearm. I think it's time that we start limiting which officers can carry firearms -- most only need to carry tasers. At the very least, most officers should only carry non lethal rounds (like rubber bullets). In Australia, most officers carry a baton only. If the officer does carries a live firearm, his uniform clearly says, "armed patrol". Why is the U.S always so slow to learn...(?)

At January 08, 2009 3:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually had a discussion earlier on armed police. A badge should not automatically earn one a gun. Time on the force, rigorous mental testing, physical training and study of the law should be required for a police officer to obtain a weapons permit. Beyond that, give them pepper spray, a walkie and a baton. For a taser, a police officer should have to first obtain a weapons permit, then undergo a heavy duty training course before being issued a taser to carry. It's the problem with so called non-lethal weapons. Police seem to feel since they're 'non-lethal', they can use them anytime they want, and lack the training and knowledge to determine when a situation calls for one, and when it does not. We had a case in the past year where a third grade little girl was placed in handcuffs, in the back of a police car, and then tased repeatedly. The abuse of non-lethal weapons is out of control.

At January 08, 2009 4:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were it not for the video recordings taken by the public this would have been another police blotter story. The cops made all attempts to confiscate any and all recording devices so as to manage not only the news and information but also the spin. So at the end of the day the Press would only have one story: BART's and that of angry and pissed off riders who just happen to be mostly people of color. BART would have spent the rest of the week burying the news and while not burying the news editing it to fit it's own spin. The police has drawn a solid blue wall to guard and protect it's own and with the office of the DA it hopes that spin will prevail over the rule of law and reason.

If you are going to get busted by the cops you better have several reliable witnesses carrying video recorders that have not be confiscated by the cops.

At January 08, 2009 6:29 PM , Blogger Hunter said...

People might consider calling/writing BART Board President Tom Blalock.

* Tel (510) 490-7565
* E-mail

This info is from his website at

I think it's important not to let this murder be defined as "one bad apple." While responsibility for police investigation may ultimately go to the Oakland Police, BART is responsible for the training and actions of it's officers (and I suspect that one way BART will be forced to take responsibility will be a civil payout in the tens of millions) and for the way it delayed questioning the murderer for an entire week, until it was too late. The officer has just resigned, sidestepping the responsibility to respond to a BART investigation. At the moment of this writing, the investigation of the murder is still being lead by BART police.

At January 08, 2009 9:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were on the jury I'd give the Grant family much more than 25 Million. I'm apalled that no charges have been filed against Johannes Mehserle.

Tim Stout
Portland, Oregon

At January 09, 2009 12:20 AM , Blogger tas said...

This post seems to have brought in over 1000 visitors yesterday. Congrats.

At January 09, 2009 1:59 AM , Blogger Melissa said...

I think we should organize a boycott of BART for the same length of time it takes them to arrest the person they employed to murder Oscar Grant. I would suspect the revenue supports the salaries of the killers they employ. Why would we continue to pay their salary when they are killing innocent citizens? I also believe BART is a government agency so why would we continue to knowingly give money to the same people who are doing nothing to ensure this murderer is locked up.

At January 11, 2009 1:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, its ok because he meant to use his tazer, on a subdued kid, thats all ok in that case, good to have these peace officers looking out for our kids that way, this is a great country!

At January 14, 2009 10:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No excuses for the officer but equally none for the idot protestors burning cars and attacking businesses. What does one have to do with the other? If they want to protest/demonstrate fine but destruction of property is criminal and they should be prosecuted. I bet many of the worst offenders don't give a crap about the shooting but love to revel in the insanity.

At January 14, 2009 10:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Melissa, I'm sure that was on the requirements for employment..."must murder Oscar Grant". What a ridiculous statement! I've got a question for you...would you be equally outraged if one of the guys that were being held by the officers pulled out a gun and started shooting the officers? Probably not.

At January 15, 2009 2:35 AM , Anonymous P said...

This doesn't exactly make sense. An officer drew down on a suspect who was face-down, the shot him in the back, in front of dozens of shouting witnesses? Something's not right here. It feels like the officer made a horrible, and criminal, mistake.


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