OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The family of Oscar Grant III, who was killed by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day in 2009, is demanding BART Director Debora Allen step down.
At last Thursday’s transit board meeting, Allen responded to public comments she called outrageous.READ MORE: UPDATE: Suspect In Cal Poly Student Kristin Smart's 1996 Disappearance, Paul Flores, Reportedly Arrested
“We heard BART PD murders people. That’s not true. The definition of ‘murder’ is the unlawful, premeditated killing of one human being by another. It’s just simply a false statement,” said Allen. “You know statements made like this at a time of such turmoil and unrest, really I can only guess, are just politically motivated.”
Oscar Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson criticized Allen at a press conference Tuesday.
“We felt directly attacked by her words,” he said.
Grant died on the platform at Fruitvale early on New Years morning. Officer Johannes Mehserle was acquitted of murder in Grant’s death, but convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served a prison term.
“We will no longer sit silent, and allow individuals to make racist, hurtful comments,” said Johnson. “And whatever it takes for us to address that issue we will do.”READ MORE: Update: Bay Area Counties Pausing Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Shots; State Continuing With Plans To Reopen On June 15
Sahleem Tindle, Jr. was killed outside the West Oakland station in 2018.
Officer Joseph Mateu was cleared of wrongdoing in his death, but a civil court jury later ordered BART to pay more than $6 million to his family.
“Taken away from his children, his wife, his family, he was murdered,” said Tindle’s cousin Yabari Chambers. “A lot of you wonder when can we move forward. We will not be able to move forward until BART and all those a part of BART agency take accountability.”
In a statement to KPIX 5 Allen said:
“I am not resigning.
Being a police officer is a difficult job under normal circumstances, but it’s made even more so when board members criminalize all BART police by refusing to disagree with those who label them murderers. Calling my defense of the police racist in the face of such accusations does a grave disservice to those officers who work hard every day to respect and serve the commuting public, while keeping trains operational and their fellow BART employees safe. Police need to be held accountable for their mistakes. But police shouldn’t be made political scapegoats by elected officials with their own personal agendas.”MORE NEWS: State Attorney General Will Oversee Sexual Assault Investigation Of Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli
Another BART Director, Janice Li, had immediately rejected Allen’s comments on Twitter, calling them “vicious, toxic and racist.”