A California prosecutor announced plans to reopen an investigation into the death of Oscar Grant, a Black man who was killed by a police officer more than a decade ago.
The surprising announcement from Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley came on Monday, Oct. 5.
“We have listened closely to the requests of the family of Oscar Grant,” O’Malley said in a statement. “The murder of Oscar Grant greatly impacted the county and the state.”
“I have assigned a team of lawyers to look back into the circumstances that caused the death of Oscar Grant,” the statement continued. “We will evaluate the evidence and the law, including the applicable law at the time and the statute of limitations, and make a determination.”
Grant died on New Year’s Day 2009 after he was shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California. Mehserle was among the transit officers responding to a fight on the crowded subway platform. Grant’s death was among the first police-involved slayings to be filmed with a cellphone and shared on social media. Actor Michael B. Jordan portrayed Grant in “Fruitvale Station,” a film directed by Ryan Coogler.
Mehserle, who shot Grant in the back as the unarmed man’s head was pinned to the platform floor by the knee of Officer Anthony Pirone, would be charged with murder but convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He was incarcerated for 11 months before he was released in 2011.
Grant’s family was speaking at a news conference at the time of O’Malley’s announcement.
“We’re not holding our breath,” Cephus X Johnson, his uncle, said. “But we definitely will be praying that she sees the truth in this issue.”
The family wants felony murder charges pressed against Pirone, the former officer who was the first to arrive at the BART station before the fatal encounter. They believe Pirone created “the climate of violence” when he pinned Grant to the ground with his knee, like the move attributed to the death of George Floyd.
Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, expressed hope during the news conference.
“Absolutely we are hopeful that Nancy O’Malley and her team will do the right thing, and the right thing is to convict Pirone for his actions in causing my son to lose his life and be killed,” she told reporters.