UC students to protest BART shooting

January 26, 2009 1:12:44 PM PST
Students at five University of California campuses Monday are planning to protest the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer on New Year's Day.

The rallies are in response to a new video aired Friday that some say shows a second BART officer punching someone in the head right before former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant III in the back.

The students are calling for an open, public and independent investigation into the entire incident, which occurred on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station after BART police stopped a train in response to reports of a fight on board.

The students will also be asking officials to disarm BART police and drop charges against protesters, among other demands.

BART issued a statement over the weekend in response to the footage.

"I take this new allegation of police use of unreasonable force extremely seriously," BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said. "I have directed Police Chief Gary Gee to conduct a rigorous internal affairs investigation into this officer's actions and to take appropriate action where warranted."

The statement said that BART officials would complete an internal investigation and then present the findings to the Alameda County District Attorney's office.

The district attorney's office said Monday morning it is not conducting an investigation into the video because it has not yet received a police report.

BART officials said that until the video was aired, they hadn't received any allegations of excessive force by any officers other than Mehserle.

Mehserle, 27, has been charged with murder in connection with Grant's death and has pleaded not guilty. The second officer remains on administrative leave while the investigation continues, according to BART officials.

Students at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz have planned to protest Monday afternoon.