New video shows BART shooting

January 7, 2009 12:31:19 PM PST
There is disturbing, newly-released video that documents the moments just before a BART Police Officer shot and killed a young man. The cell phone video is hard to watch, but it's also critically important to understanding what happened that night.

It gives us a look at just what 22-year-old Oscar Grant was doing when he was shot at BART's Fruitvale station in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Witnesses say Grant was restrained by police and on his stomach when he was shot in the back. On Monday, protestors showed their outrage in the lobby of BART's Oakland headquarters. They say the officer who shot Grant should be charged with murder.

BART has not released the officer's name, but the SF Chronicle is reporting that he is Johannes Mehserle, a two-year BART police veteran who turned 27 on Monday. His first child was born within a day or two of the shooting - which may explain why Mehserle has not yet explained the shooting to investigators.

The video, released late Monday night by the attorney for Grant's family, shows the chaos of the situation and you can hear the sound of the gun going off. It was an emotional situation and it is difficult to absorb.

ABC7 showed the video to a police watchdog group in Berkeley and it was received with shock. The group said it was hard to watch and it left them feeling sad. Copwatch is a group of volunteer activists that follow police around with a camera in Oakland, Berkeley and on BART. They are now renewing their call for police accountability.

Please be warned this video may be difficult to view due to the graphic nature and language used.
RAW: BART shooting caught on tape

In taking a look of the video, you can see police move 22-year-old Oscar grant down to the ground. BART passengers are yelling at police while two officers are handling Grant, and a third is standing next to them.

Witnesses have said Grant begged police not to Tase him because he has a 4-year-old daughter and that he is telling his friends to cooperate. You can't hear any of that on this video, but you can see the cops spending a bit of time with Grant. Then you see the officer with a gun and then hear the gunfire. The video also captures the officer's reaction.

The members of Copwatch say they had watched other videos taken by passengers that night, but now that they've seen this version, they say they have no doubt what happened.

"It's pretty clear yeah. I would say that officer committed a crime... it looks like he was shot in his back," said Andrea Prichett, from Copwatch.

BART's Police Chief said in a press conference on Sunday the video he has seen is inconclusive. ABC7 doesn't know if he has seen this video, but he did say he has seen a few different examples captured by BART passengers.

"We ask that public be patient please refrain from jumping to any conclusions and allow investigators to do their jobs," said BART Police Chief Gery Gee on Sunday.

BART board member Tom Ridulovich also doesn't want to comment on the videos; he wants the investigation to run its course. But he does think it's time to create a police oversight committee for BART Police and will propose one at this Thursday's board meeting.

"I think if we're going to have a police force, it feels to me really like an obligation that we provide the proper review. I think it's certainly something as directors it's something we do as best we can to prevent anything from happening like this again," said Tom Ridulovich, a BART board member.

The attorney for Grant would like to file a $25 million lawsuit on Tuesday.