OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Oakland City Council on Tuesday passed a resolution to request BART name the street near the Fruitvale station “Oscar Grant Way” after the man fatally shot by a BART police officer ten years ago.
Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale station in Oakland.
Mehserle, who shot the Grant in the back as he lay face down on the platform, claimed he meant to shoot Grant with his taser, but drew his gun by mistake. Grant was rushed to Highland Hospital in Oakland and pronounced dead later that day.
Mehserle was charged with murder and a trial was held in Los Angeles where the jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to two years in jail and was released in 2011.
Videos of the shooting were seen around the world and fueled an already-growing demand for a civilian oversight model of policing.
The incident exposed a number of shortcomings in the BART police department: inadequate training and oversight, antagonism with the public and outdated policies.
Council President Rebecca Kaplan co-authored the resolution with former council member Desley Brooks.
“We are here today to honor Oscar Grant, and I want to acknowledge this is a small gesture that is long past time in passing. The activism of the family and the community sparked an international movement,” Kaplan said in a statement. “We need to honor the life of Oscar Grant, the activism his death has sparked, and we need to continue to fight for a world where black men and boys are not targets of these types of killings.”
Oscar Grant’s Uncle Cephus Johnson, the longtime spokesman for Grant’s family, thanked Brooks, Kaplan and others for the resolution.
Two BART board directors have said they would do what they could to rally other directors to follow the resolution.