BART Board gets earful from community

January 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
BART Board members held a meeting Sunday afternoon in response to the deadly shooting of 22-year old OScar Grant on New Year's Day.

Grant was unarmed and lying on his stomach when he was shot to death by a BART police officer.

The shooting has drawn outrage from the community and beyond.

The BART Commission withstood another barrage of questions and lectures from the community Sunday. Even a few government leaders took aim at the commission for appearing to drag its feet.

Oakland City Council member Desley Brooks pointed out that the City offered to help BART review its policies but only got a lukewarm response.

California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Simon said his commission would be conducting a review of BART's triannual report to them, and that they would be receiving a letter from his office.

"I encourage you as others have today, to act swiftly and make decisions. You are really looking as if you're an indecisive tribunal with no true authority," he told the board.

"Something is desperately wrong with this picture. And, if you guys can't take action let us know because there are those of us who are willing to jump in there. But, by virtue of your authority you have to do the action. So, if we need to write it for you let us know. Get us your policies and procedures and we can review them," Desley Brooks told the commission.

When a board member interrupted her to clarify that she did not need Brook's assistance, the Oakland councilwoman replied,"You know what? That is way out of line given that nothing has been done. It is clear."

Tension ran high during the meeting. At one point BART Commision member Carole Ward Allen got up and left the meeting.

Other community members continued to grill BART Police Chief Gary Gee on the handling of former officer Johannes Mehserle, who still has not been questioned after he was captured on video shooting Oscar Grant.

The BART Commission will meet Monday at 1:30 p.m. at BART headquarters to establish a police oversight committee to monitor its police actions, something BART has never done before.