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$25 million claim filed in BART shooting

January 7, 2009 12:31:30 PM PST
A $25 million claim was filed Tuesday morning over a shooting death by a BART police officer on New Year's Day.

22-year old Hayward resident Oscar Grant was killed while BART Police were trying to break up a fight at the Fruitvale Station.

The shooting could cost BART millions, maybe even tens of millions of dollars. It has definitely cost a 4-year old girl her father.

The incident has really touched a nerve among some people in Oakland.

The latest in a chain of videos shows the shooting in graphic detail.

First, Grant is brought to the ground by two officers. A short time later he is face down on the platform. An officer identified in a San Francisco Chronicle report as Johannes Mehserle pulls his weapon and fires.

Tuesday, the attorney for Grant's family, John Burris, filed a $25 million claim against BART and the officer who did the shooting.

"That claim is based upon a wrongful death. That is, that the death was wrongfully done intentionally or negligently. Secondly, there's a violation of his civil rights and that excessive force was used on him. That is deadly force as used when deadly force was not warranted," explained Burris.

Burris wants all videos in BART's possession made public, to give the family closure, to let them know what happened at 2 a.m. on New Year's Day, and to assure the public there is no cover-up by BART.

"What did police officers do and what did he intend to do at the time? And, those are critically important for purposes of evaluating what type of criminal charges if any should be filed," said Burris.

Outside the Fruitvale Station where the shooting occurred, people who never knew Oscar Grant stop and stare, not necessarily at the candles and notes at the makeshift memorial, but they look inside themselves and share the family's pain.

Denise McRaven lost her 14-year old to violence in 1990.

"I'm trying not to be emotional about this, but this really hurts. It brought back every pain that I felt for my son. It's like coming back when I walk past this. It makes me feel really emotional," she said.

Burris says BART's response so far has been inadequate. Many folks feel no response can undo what has been done.

"It's sad. It hurts that it's 2009 and we're still living in this. It's really sad. It's ridiculous," said Oakland resident Saldes Dixon.

BART has 45 days to respond to the claim. At that point Burris will file a lawsuit. He expects BART not to respond to the claim.

A spokesperson was not available for comment Tuesday morning.


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