A decade after Oscar Grant was murdered by a police officer at a BART station in the early hours of New Years Day comes disturbing details of how one of the involved officers set things in motion. Former BART police officer Anthony Pirone assaulted Grant, called him the n-word, and lied about what led up to a second officer opening fire and killing the 22-year-old father.
The documents released Wednesday (May 1) under a new California police transparency law, stem from an internal investigation completed by Meyers Nave law firm which was hired by BART shortly after Grant was killed in 2009. Pirone claimed that he was “fighting for his life” during the fatal incident when in actuality, he instigated the altercation with his “repeated and unnecessary use of force” against Grant and use of the n-word.
“Pirone was, in large part, responsible for setting the events in motion that created a chaotic and tense situation on the platform, setting the stage, even if inadvertent, for the shooting of Oscar Grant,” the document states.
Johannes Mehserle, the officer who shot and killed Grant, was found guilty of manslaughter and given the minimum two-year sentence. Mehserle claimed that he thought he pulled his Taser when he grabbed his gun and fired at Grant but the documents suggest that he was aware that he was pulling a firearm.
The investigation included numerous witness statements that reveal how officers provoked the fracas and that Grant was on the BART platform face down while a cop had his a knee in his back before he was killed. As the document states, Officer Mehserle is shown in the video “standing over Grant,” reaching for his gun and “firing one round into the back of Grant.”
Pirone and Officer Marysol Domenici were the first to respond to a call of a disturbance at Oakland’s Fruitvale BART Station where the train was stopped. Grant was pulled off the train and forced to the ground as officers attempted to arrest him. Marysol and Domenici were fired over their involvement in Grant’s death, though Domenici was reinstated with backpay after she was found to be truthful during the investigation.
In 2010, Pirone was charged with unemployment fraud and grand theft for allegedly collecting unemployment checks even though he had a job.
After Mehersle was charged with murder, Domenici testified at his preliminary hearing painting Grant and his friends as the aggressors. “If they would have followed orders, this wouldn’t have happened,” she said.
Grant was pronounced dead at Alameda County Medical Center nine hours after the BART shooting. His death was one of the first police involved shootings to be captured on cell phone video and led to protests against police brutality. Grant’s mother and daughter were awarded a combined 2.8 million settlement from BART. Grant’s five friends who were on the train with him settled with BART for $175,000 each.
Click here to read the full report on Grant’s murder.