BART has agreed to pay $1.3 million Tuesday to Wanda Johnson, the mother of victim Oscar Grant III, who was shot in the back by a transit agency police officer two and a half years ago, to settle her civil case against it and the officers involved.
BART has paid $2.8 million to Johnson in total, including a $1.5 million payment made last year to Grant's young daughter, Tatiana Grant. This $2.8 million payment only represents 5.6 percent of the $50 million that Oscar’s mother had sued.
On New Year’s Day 2009, when the young unarmed man Oscar, 22, was travelling home after a celebration in San Francisco, a fight broke out in his rail car. During the fight that took place on the Fruitvale station platform , he was fatally shot by former Bart police officer Johannes Mehserle, 29.
Later, on the witness stand, Mehserle said he had meant to take out a Taser shock weapon but mistakenly he had fired his pistol into Oscar’s back.
A week after the incident, Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Grant's death. After serving 11 months of a two-year sentence, he was released from jail earlier on June 13 because of good behavior credit.
At a news conference at the Oakland office of John Burris, her attorney, Johnson said she was glad that the lawsuit has been settled. However, No amount of money could replace Oscar, and my heart still grieves for my son.” she added,” The loss was unnecessary, and I just pray that as officers go around, and they have to make decisions, that they would choose the right decision. It didn't have to be this way.
This has been an extraordinary situation for the mom, with the nature of the death and the criminal prosecution, Burris said on Tuesday. This brings closure to these events in a way that's necessary. She's very emotional, but she saw it was in her best interests to move on.
In a statement, Bob Franklin, the BART Board President said the transit agency has learned some lessons from Grant's shooting death. We have been continuously taking the actions needed to improve the BART Police Department to ensure our officers are better-trained and better-equipped and we're working with the community and our customers to earn their trust and confidence by keeping them safe and secure.
Meanwhile, settlements talks continued on Wednesday between BART and six other plaintiffs: Grant's incarcerated father, Oscar Grant Jr., and five of Grant's friends. These five friends said they were mistreated by police officers before and after the shooting.