East Bay News

BART: Video doesn't show shooting

Thursday, January 01, 2009
BART Linton Johson BART Shooting

Bay Area Rapid Transit Police are scrambling to explain what happened on Wednesday night, after a young man died from a bullet fired by a BART Police officer. It happened after a fight broke out on an East Bay BART train. People were going home after the New Year's fireworks display in San Francisco.

BART says it now has surveillance video from New Year's morning when a young man was shot to death by a bullet fired from a BART officer's gun.

The video is now in police hands as evidence and will likely be used in the investigation to determine why the officer's gun went off, fatally wounding 22-year-old Oscar Grant of Hayward. However, a BART spokesman told ABC7 News the video may not help explain what happened.

"It does not show much according to police department. It does show people standing around. It does not show the discharge of the weapon," said BART Chief Spokesman Linton Johnson.

BART isn't sure at this point if the officer intended to fire his weapon or if it is accidental. That is something they are still investigating as they look into this New Year's Day tragedy.

After New Year's festivities in San Francisco, a packed train bound for Pleasanton, stopped at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland at 2:15 a.m. BART says five officers responded to reports of arguing between two groups of men.

"There was a lot of verbal arguing, jockeying between the two groups of men. At some point, an officer's firearm discharged, striking Mr. Grant," said Jim Allison, a BART spokesperson.

Witnesses claim that BART Police confronted 22-year-old Oscar Grant on the Fruitvale platform. They say he was lying face down on the ground, his wrists and ankles bound with plastic cuffs when the shot went off.

"Why would you shoot a person who has handcuffs on? Why would you do that?" said Bertrina Grant, the victim's aunt.

Bertrina Grant vented her rage outside of Highland Hospital where some friends and witnessed had also gathered. They did not want to be identified but claim police seemed stunned when the shot went off.

"Their reaction was, they couldn't believe it. Yeah they took the handcuffs off of him after he was shot," said a witness.

"Our preliminary investigation shows Mr. Grant was not restrained when the officers firearm discharged," said Allison.

BART says several other men were cuffed and the officer's gun was out of the holster. They don't know yet if the shooting was an accident. Police found no weapons among the men. Oscar Grant, who is from Hayward, was rushed to Oakland's Highland Hospital.

"Our trauma team immediately took over and began working on him. However, the patient did pass away at 9:13 this morning," said Andrea Breaux, a Highland Hospital spokesperson.

Two men were detained for questioning and were later released. They claim cell phone videos were confiscated by BART Police, but BART will only confirm that there was no video recovered from the surveillance cameras trained on the Fruitvale platform.

"The camera systems very from station to station. Fruitvale station does not have a tape system, so there is no BART tape of surveillance video," said Allison.

The BART officer who fired the shot is a two-year veteran of the department. His name has not been released, but he has been placed on routine administrative leave. Meanwhile, BART has opened their own investigation into the shooting as well as the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, opening a separate investigation.

ABC7 tried to get information on Grant's fatal gunshot wound from the Alameda County Coroner's office, but were told that someone at BART requested that any information on Grant be withheld.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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