Fruitvale Station Reignites Debate About Whether Oscar Grant Was Handcuffed

Categories: Law & Order

OscarGrant.jpg
Michael B. Jordan stars as Oscar Grant in the film Fruitvale Station
Like filmmaker Ryan Coogler, I wanted to uncover the truth about Oscar Grant, the 22 year-old man who was shot on the platform of Fruitvale BART Station on New Year's Day four years ago. And like Coogler, I got sucked into the web of myths around Oscar Grant, which at this point is so thick and labyrinthine that it seems impossible to untangle the man from the legend, or the myth from the social allegory.

I said, in the first sentence of my article, that Oscar Grant was handcuffed at the time of his death. That in fact is not true -- or at least, it's a major point of contention, and within hours, readers had chimed in to correct the record.

Oscar Grant wasn't handcuffed. Rather, he was lying face down with one arm pinned beneath his torso and another flailing at this left side, and several officers restraining him -- two of them backed away when BART cop Johannes Mehserle pulled out his gun and fired, fatally wounding Grant.

Because Grant appears to be trussed in many of the cell phone videos documenting his final minutes, the handcuffs issue became a major point of contention in media reports -- and in court. Some eyewitnesses testified that Grant was resisting arrest by keeping his hands under his torso, and that Mehserle was struggling to handcuff him. Mehserle claimed he thought Grant might be reaching for something in his waistband -- in some cell phone videos, he appears to be yanking on Grant's hand before drawing his gun. Some say Grant couldn't free his own hand, owing to the weight of Mehserle and Officer Anthony Pirone on top of him. Whatever the case, if you accept the premise that Grant's hand was pinned beneath his torso, rather than behind his back, then he couldn't have been handcuffed.

Yet many still debate the issue, especially now that journalists are using Coogler's film, Fruitvale Station - and not the original cell phone videos of the incident - as their primary source material. Of the reviews I've read analyzing Fruitvale Station, roughly half say Grant was handcuffed at the time Meheserle drew his gun and fired.

What's perhaps most interesting about the handcuffs issue is that most journalists -- and law enforcement -- thought they'd put the issue to bed four years ago, and now it's resurfaced anew. I'd thought Fruitvale Station would become the official narrative about Oscar Grant, the one that will foreclose on all other testimonials about his character, or about the cops' motivations. But it turns out Ryan Coogler has reopened the Pandora's Box behind the Oscar Grant case, and made it a national conversation. In so doing, he's forced us to reconsider all these questions.




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26 comments
tyson
tyson

hate the fucking police

unrestrained72
unrestrained72

Thank You.  I'm wondering where everybody is hearing that he's handcuffed.  His hands are flying all over.

boaster
boaster

What debate? The video showed he wasn't handcuffed and it was conceded at trial.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

Well, who cares?  He was a typical criminal and got killed because he was fighting with the police.  Bad decisions can get you killed. 

tyson
tyson

@Federale yea some1 needs to make a bad decision and shoot u in the back

ak47andthechinawhite
ak47andthechinawhite

@Federale he was not resisting arrest.  The video shows that his friend to the left of him had his foot stuck under the body of Grant preventing Grant from removing his arm.  At one point when they do get his arm free you can see his friend move his leg as well.  (His friend is also yelling that his leg is stuck---in the footage.)  Initially he stood to plead his case and ask why he was being arrested from the approaching officer to the left.(The one that eventually pinned his head.)  The officer killed him...cause all officers are supposed to carry their weapons with the safety on. You have to turn the safety off to fire---which the gun is not only a different weight but also set-up differently from a taser gun which he claims.  It is never right to shoot someone in the back!  It shows how negligent he was. What is all their training for???

Federale
Federale topcommenter

@tyson @Federale Typical violent thug reaction.  But I doubt you will even be able to hit someone in the back with your homie sights.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

Don't be acting the ghetto fool and you won't get shot.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

@ak47andthechinawhite @Federale The cause of the shooting was Grant's resisting arrest.  He was shot because the officer thought he was deploying his Taser.  It was a mistake on the officer's part.  Grant was not handcuffed, but he was arresting being   The video clearly shows Grant tensing and resisting the officers, holding his hands under his body, etc.  That is resisting arrest.  If Grant had submitted to lawful authority and let himself be handcuffed, he would be alive today.  He committed suicide by cop.  When you are asking why the police are arresting you, that is resisting as well.  You don't get to ask that question, one just submits to arrest.

You are wrong on safeties.  Most pistols carried by police officers in the United States carry either Glock or Sig-Sauer pistols.  Those do not have manual safeties.  The real issue is that Taser recommends that Taser devices be carried on the support side, not the strong side.  That means on the side which an officer uses to fire his pistol.

Grant was a wanna-be thug who spent most of his life in and out of jail.  He could not hold a steady job, maintain a steady relationship, or keep from fighting other gang-members on BART trains.  Like Trayvon Martin he could not control his emotions nor make rational decisions about life and behavior in public.  He had no control of future thought process.  Everything was whatever immediate gratification he wanted.  People like that get into fights with others and with the police.  They make bad decisions throughout their life.  It was just a matter of time.  Generally people like Grant and Trayvon get killed by other blacks with the same problems, but in Grant's case he got in a fight which brought him to the attention of the police, failed to submit to lawful authority, fought with the police, then by error, and error only, got shot.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

@rissa_frog Not true, the argument of the radical left is that Oscar Grant was the victim of racism.  You put "error" in quotes, which clearly means that you think the officer did it intentionally.  It is clear from the video it was a tragic mistake.  You can see the shock and surprise on his face after he fired his pistol.  Take your self-hating white hipster leftism and try and think about things for a minute.  You viewed the shooting through the lens of the typical leftist who thinks the cops are oppressing the poor black thugs.  Well, Oscar Grant was not stealing bread to feed his child, but fighting with other gangbangers on BART for no reason other than his inability to control his emotions and inability to think about the consequences of his actions.   Furthermore Grant was not bright enough to think for one minute and decide that fighting the police was a bad idea.  That is part of the ghetto mentality that you act to support and encourage by blaming cops for the violence of black thugs.

rissa_frog
rissa_frog

I never at blamed "whites" for anything. I said one cop screwed up his job, whether on purpose or because he is incompetent, only he knows. But I never said it was because of what color his skin was. I'm more than finished trying to argue a point with an idiot. Obviously it's just a waste of my time and I have better things to do than waste it on someone of your stature.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

@rissa_frog Unlikely, communists always blame whites for the failings of blacks.  And that is what you do.

rissa_frog
rissa_frog

Haha! I'm not a Communist, just a decent educated human being. I'm almost certain more so than yourself. Because educated people do not blame a race for the problems of any neighborhood, city, state, or country. Educated people do not keep a close mind and refuse to see the whole picture. They also do not attack people for their opinions. You're entitled to yours, however irrelevant and misguided they are.

And just so you know, I donate to a couple charities weekly. I have no issue putting my faith and money where my mouth is. But please, continue to show us your infinite wisdom on racial matters. I'm sure your clan brothers would love to hear it.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

@rissa_frog Accusations of racism are the first and only argument of communists like yourself.  It is irrelevant that someone you are related to has law enforcement and military experience.  Clearly you have none. I actually have that experience.  So my knowledge trumps your lack of knowledge. You are just a white Uncle Tom, self-hating hipster who despite his claim to support blacks never gives any money to charity.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

@rissa_frog Hey, people who write in all capital letters are by definition not very bright.


But in any event, you are a fool to think that he was deliberately shooting Grant, who was a violent criminal thug.  


The fact that some relative of yours was in the military or law enforcement is irrrelevant.


In fact, black people commit the crime that plagues Oakland.  Being white, you make better decisions in life that keeps you from getting the attention of the police.  Oscar Grant spent his whole short and pitiful life getting the attention of the police because he was always doing something stupid like getting involved in a gang fight on BART or then fighting with the police who are arresting him.  

rissa_frog
rissa_frog

Oh, and just in case you want to "educate" me on officer training or procedures, I come from a long line of law enforcement and military so please spare me any nonsense. Go educate yourself on a case you clearly have not studied and try to keep your narrow minded racism to yourself. Thanks :)

rissa_frog
rissa_frog

Well, Im white and I can tell you that if you really knew anything about this case, you wouldnt be so interested in defending an "error" made by this officer. Who, might I add, has also been involved in another police brutality case that began BEFORE (thats right, its in all caps) the shooting of Grant took place, in which he was identified as the main aggressor. The gentlemen sitting to the left did in fact testify that he was asking if he could move his leg because Grants arm was pinned under his body and his foot was preventing him from releasing it. When Grant tried to jerk his arm out from under him (which was necassary due to the fact he had the weight of two men on top of him) the officer thought he was "grabbing for something." Grant had not been involved in violent crimes and had spent less than a total of two years in prison. Oh, and by the way, he was a 22 year old kid growing up in Oakland, where brutality against blacks is more than documented. And in case you want to continue defending an officer who pulled a gun instead of a taser...his taser was worn on his left side...he was trained to pull it from there. You can see in 3 videos he looks down at his pistol as he draws it. Interesting that the fact that its black and NOT bright yellow seems to not catch his attention. But he very well could have just been "acting in the moment", correct? Just ask the dozens of witnesses who can attest to these things or his parole officer who can attest to the fact that Grant was really trying to focus on being a family man. As for his relationship, how many humans are constistant there? And employment? In California?? For a 22 year old with no degree and a record in the height of the recession??? Please dont make me laugh.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

@Free You don't get to resist arrest.  Try it sometime.

Free
Free

@Federale Land of the free, and you claim we do not have the right to ask why we are being arrested? That's insane. The police are not above us, they are people that took an oath to protect and serve, not kill people.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

When you type all caps it makes you look like a fool. And black.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

Typing all caps makes you look like the idiot you are. And from your comment, you sound black. Thanks for making Oakland un-liveable.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

Let me guess, you are black too? Give it a try motherfucker.

tyson
tyson

@Federale @ak47andthechinawhite shut the fuck up u FOOL if it was the other way around grant would be doing life here in England u don't hear about fucking stupid police making mistakes like that one what sort of dickhead mistakes a gun for a tazer he should be shot in the back when he laying face down error are u stupid I would love to hear u say that to his family watch them rip your head off now go fester away u scumbag

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