Reported by Andrew Scot Bolsinger
Oscar Grant Jr., father of the man who was shot and killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer in the first hours of New Years Day 2009 in Oakland, Calif., was denied damages by a federal jury on Thursday.
The jury found that the father—who had been in prison all of his son’s life—failed to show he had a close familial relationship with his son and failed to prove the officer intentionally harmed his son for reasons “unrelated to legitimate law-enforcement objectives,” according to recent reports.
Grant III was shοt in the back and killed, while laying on the ground in a crowded BART station, by transit police officer Johannes Mehserle. The final day of Grant III’s life was portrayed in the independent, award-winning film Fruitvale Station.
The incident was captured on numerous cellphone video cameras by other train passengers, prompting protests and riots and outraging much of the nation.
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a 2010 criminal trial, and was released from a Los Angeles County jail in June 2011 after receiving credit for time served.
A year after the incident, BART reached a civil settlement with those closely connected to Grant III and the incident. Grant III’s young daughter, Tatiana, received $1.5 millon and his mother Wanda another $1.3 million in settlements. BART also awarded $175,000 to each of Grant III’s five friends who were with Grant when he was shot. BART did not settle with Grant Jr., whose case went to trial in June.
“The man was killed in cold blood: No ifs, ands or buts about it,” Grant Jr., said during his testimony, according to the Oakland Tribune. “I don’t care how they say it, it was not an accident.
“They took the most precious thing in the world to me—my only child,” said Grant Jr., 50.
The jury was aware that Grant Jr. was serving time in Solano state prison, but was not told any details of his criminal record—nor the details of Grant III’s own arrests and convictions before his death, according to published reports.
As described by the local newspaper’s coverage of the story, the spectators in the courtroom could hear Grant Jr.’s leg shackles as he walked to and from the witness stand dressed in a gray suit, blue shirt, and multicolored tie.
Grant Jr. told the jury he filed the lawsuit out of a respect for his son. He said he wants to help take care of his granddaughter Tatiana and he wants the chance to pay restitution for his own crimes.
“I’ve already paid for my crime, I’d like to give back to the community,” said Grant Jr., who according to a trial brief filed by his lawyer expects to be paroled in the next couple years after four prior denials by the state parole board.
During cross examination about the depth of his relationship with his son, Grant Jr. grew combative, according to the Tribune. Grant Jr. could not answer questions about whether his son played high school sports, whether he knew his granddaughter’s birthday, his son’s friends’ names, or whether Grant III had a job.
“What does my prison record have to do with your officer killing my son, shooting my son in the back?” Grant Jr. said during the trial.
Grant Jr. said Grant III last visited him in prison in 2002, and he last spoke to his son three days before his Jan. 1, 2009 death.
The jury deliberated a day before choosing to deny Grant Jr.’s claim that Mehserle’s intentional shooting of his son deprived him of a previous existing relationship that involved deep attachments and commitments to one another, and the sharing of special community of thoughts, experiences and beliefs, according to published reports.