Father Loses Civil Lawsuit Against Man Who Killed His Son

| by Lisa Fogarty

The family of a black man who was “mistakenly” shot by a white, former transit officer, lost a civil suit today after a San Francisco civil jury ruled in favor of the Bay Area Rapid Transit worker and awarded the victim’s family no damages.

BART officer Johannes Mehserle, 33, claims he accidentally shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant III on Jan. 1, 2009 at the now-infamous Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California. The incident, which was caught on cellphone cameras, sparked racial tensions, even though Mehserle said he thought he was using his Taser and not a service revolver when he allegedly shot Grant in the back as he lay face down on the platform, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I thought he was going for a gun,” Mehserle testified. “I made a mistake.”

The transit worker was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 by a criminal court jury and served time in prison until his 2011 release.

The victim’s father, Oscar Grant Jr., filed a federal lawsuit after his son’s mother and sister settled with BART out of court for $2.8 million. Five of the victim’s friends, who were detained after the shooting, also agreed to a $175,000 payout.

But Grant and his son were not close, a defense attorney argued, and he went on to try and prove why the father did not deserve damages, reports Huffington Post. During his cross-examination, the attorney questioned the father about his child – and it turns out he did not know several details about his life, schooling or profession.

But Grant maintains that the ruling was unfair. “They took the most precious thing in the world to me, my only child,” he said in court. The man says he believes Mehserle intentionally tried to kill Grant and that he wants money in order to provide for his granddaughter, reports Oakland Tribune.

“The man was killed in cold blood: No ifs, ands or buts about it,” Grant said. 

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Oakland Tribune