Grant's attorney makes serious accusations against BART

February 5, 2010 5:53:49 PM PST
The attorney representing the unarmed man shot by a BART police officer is making some new and very serious allegations against BART. His client, Oscar Grant, was shot to death on New Year's Day a year ago by Johannes Mehserle-- who is now facing murder charges.

At the Fruitvale BART station, where the shooting happened, a fiery news conference was held. Grant's family and some of the witnesses were present at the conference. The Grant family attorney John Burris accused BART of doing something that has actually put people's lives in danger. A BART attorney, however, says they did nothing wrong.

"We have protective orders in this case, so that some of this stuff that has come out through protective orders is shocking to me. How could this happen? BART had to do it. BART had to do it!!" John Burris, Attorney

John Burris the attorney for the family of Oscar Grant claims BART lawyers violated the law, by releasing information from depositions taken as part of a civil lawsuit and settlement.

"They have been threatened. The people have made statements to their families, calling them snitches," says Burris.

Earlier this week, a BART attorney told ABC7 statements made by five men about the night Grant was killed on a train platform may actually help Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer charged with Grant's murder.

One man testified in his civil deposition that Mehserle "warned" Grant he was going to be Tased. Burris claims that information should never have been released. BART attorney Dale Allen told ABC7 by phone, it had to be under the law.

"My response to that simply is that we have a public entity involved and that's public money and there is a public record," said Allen.

Burris is also upset about suggestions the settlement amount for grant's young daughter, $1.5 million, somehow indicates his case is weak.

"This child is taken care of for the rest of her life. Is that a fundamentally bad thing that I have done? No. It was the right thing to do," says Burris.

Burris originally announced he would seek $50 million for Grant's family.

"He is certainly trying to do damage control," says Michael Rains who represents Mehserle in both the criminal and civil cases.

"There have been questions raised amongst people in the community that he knows about why did you do this? Why did you settle for this paltry sum of money?" says Rains.

Burris insists he has not reduced his $50 million goal for his civil lawsuit. Grant's mother has not settled yet and Burris went onto say given the events of this week and the information released by BART, that he might seek to throw out that $1.5 million settlement for Grant's daughter and start all over again.