Updated: Oscar Grant Appeals Ruling Implicates Mehserle's Supervisor

Categories: Law & Order

Update, 6:18 p.m. : The plaintiffs' attorney, John Burris, said he's pleased with the Ninth Circuit's decision to implicate Pirone. "It was Pirone's needless overaggressiveness that resulted in Oscar's death," Burris said. While Mehserle was culpable for the shooting, he added, it was Pirone's actions that "set everything in motion."

Original story:

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Oscar Grant
The specter of Oscar Grant floated back into popular discourse this summer, and not only because Ryan Coogler's film Fruitvale Station briefly resurrected the slain 22 year-old. Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a closely-watched civil rights case that Grant's friends and family launched against the three BART officers who were implicated in Grant's killing, as well as the transit agency and its management.

According to the court's opinion, shooter Johannes Mehserle, who served 11 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter, isn't the only person who's guilty for Oscar Grant's death.

Grant's friends Nigel Bryson, Jack Bryson, Jr., Carlos Reyes, Michael Greer, and Fernando Anicete, Jr. sued BART in San Francisco district court back in December, alleging that officers Mehserle and Marysol Domenici, as well as their supervisor Anthony Pirone, had unlawfully detained the five men -- and Oscar Grant -- on an eastbound BART platform on New Year's Day, 2009. By arresting them and holding them handcuffed overnight after shooting Grant, they had violated state and Constitutional law. Grant's father filed a separate complaint, claiming that the officers had denied him a familial relationship with his son.

The district court upheld many of these claims and the appeals court affirmed most of them on July 30, in a ruling that spread the blame from Mehserle to his superior officer and to the transit system itself. Citing Pirone for both the unlawful detention and arrest-without-probable cause claims, Ninth Circuit Judge Mary H. Murguia noted the "questionable nature of Pirone's authority to detain the group for a misdemeanor that abated before his arrival."

Commenting on the case last night, San Francisco Chronicle courts reporter Bob Egelko contended that the appeals ruling "could shift some of the blame to the officer's supervisor and perhaps the transit system itself."

We called BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost and the plaintiffs' attorney John Burris this morning, but we're still waiting for their response.


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7 comments
thebighispanic
thebighispanic

Fighting on a train, a misdemeanor, doesn't constitute murdering someone. Idiot...

BeResponsibleForYou
BeResponsibleForYou

Let's not forget the other person most responsible, Oscar himself.  While I would never say he deserved to be killed in the fashion he was, he was not a victim of circumstances.  The choices he made earlier that night, such as fighting on BART, led him to be on that platform that night.

Uncle_Bobby
Uncle_Bobby

@BeResponsibleForYou As Oscar Grant uncle and who sat everyday in court, let's not forget that Johannes Mehserle in his 2.5 years as a Bart Officer was in four police brutality cases prior to killing Oscar Grant. This is a fact. Johannes Mehserle slap a high school Latino female at the high school he attended in Nape. Let's not forget the person responsible for Oscar Grant death, Johannes Mehserle. Had he not had such hatred for people of color, Oscar Grant would be living today. His history of abuse of young Black men speak for itself. These are facts. One other most important fact, the jury found him guilty on the gun enhancement charge. They found him responsible for Oscar Grant death. The judge Robert Perry claimed he erred in his instructions to the jury on the gun enhancement and removed that verdict of guilty from the jury on the gun enhancement charge. Funny how these racist can error in their responsibility to the people and yet people like yourself wants to blame Oscar Grant for killing himself. This is blatant Racism. Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in the back while lying face down with his hand behind his back crisscross and you say blame Oscar Grant for his own murder. Wow.!

bayareabornandraised
bayareabornandraised

@BeResponsibleForYouyah, and so by that reasoning, he shouldn't have even left the house that evening, right? nice, circuitous way to blame the victim. did oscar shoot himself in the back while lying on his stomach, face down on the platform? no. regardless of the circumstances that led him to be detained on the platform (which was problematic in itself, as this article states the judge has determined), his death was not an inevitable result of whatever altercation there was inside the train. his death, however, WAS an inevitable result of mehserle's trigger-happy finger and, according to this article, his supervisor and the bart system itself. 

Truth
Truth

@bayareabornandraised  In reply to:"yah, and so by that reasoning, he shouldn't have even left the house that evening, right? nice,"  True. Oscar should have not left the house that evening. Not putting the blame or outcome on Oscar, but it needs to be mentioned that he did make an unwise decision. He should have not left his mothers birthday party at her home and go out after 10:00 P.M. that night. He violated his parole. The autopsy revealed he had alcohol in his system. Another parole violation. Mehserle did not have a "trigger happy finger". He intended to use his Taser for a good reason. Read the article in the link I posted above.

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