A police officer involved in the New Year's Day 2009 murder of unarmed Black man Oscar Grant on a train platform in Oakland, California repeatedly lied to investigators and punched the 22-year-old without reason, according to newly released records obtained by The San Francisco Chronicle.
The report was released under The Golden State's new transparency law, Senate Bill 1421. The information reveals that Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Officer Anthony Pirone, one of the officers involved in Grant's death, attempted to cover up his actions.
"Pirone was, in large part, responsible for setting the events in motion that created a chaotic and tense situation on the platform, setting the stage, even if inadvertent, for the shooting of Oscar Grant," said Kimberly Colwell and Jayne Williams, the two lawyers who authored the opinion on July 31, 2009.
The SF Chronicle reports former BART deputy Johannes Mehserle fatally shot Grant in the back on January 1, 2009, and was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter. NBC Bay Area reports he was sentenced to two years behind bars, but only served about one year. While Mehserle actually pulled the trigger, researchers determined Pirone's actions were "responsible for setting the events in motion that created a chaotic and tense situation on the platform, setting the stage, even if inadvertent, for the shooting of Oscar Grant."
Early that morning, Pirone and Mehserle answered a call about a dispute occurring at Fruitvale station, according to CNN. Possible suspects were lined up for questioning. Pirone noticed Grant walking between cars and profanely summoned him off the train. Per the news outlet, Pirone claims Grant attempted to strike Mehserle and kick him in the groin, which prompted the former officer to fight for his life.
The investigation contradicts all those claims. In fact, it reveals Pirone instigated the fight with Grant by grabbing him and pushing the victim against a wall before striking him in the head.
Pirone also repeatedly called Grant a "n****r," which he claims was because Grant said it first. Nonetheless, investigators determined that only worsened the situation and his use of such language "cannot, and should not, be excused, justified or go unpunished.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Grant's mother Wanda Johnson said she has wanted Pirone to be held accountable since the incident occurred. She added the nation should work toward a system where officers are "held accountable when necessary for their actions."
"It's important to know that as a community, as a country, we have to look at our laws and we have to really work to reform our police departments and our judicial system where there is accountability," Johnson said.
The first police-involved shooting to be caught on camera by witnesses, Oscar Grant's murder was also the inspiration behind by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler’s 2013 film Fruitvale Station, named after the site of Grant's murder. Read the entire report here.
Now, check these out: