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No charges against 2nd officer in 2009 police killing of of Oscar Grant

The officer did not personally kill Oscar Grant or aid or abet in his killing, the prosecutor said.
Image: Oscar Grant
Protesters on behalf of shooting victim Oscar Grant gather at the the U.S. District Court building in Los Angeles on June 13, 2011.Nick Ut / AP file

OAKLAND, Calif. — A San Francisco Bay Area prosecutor will not file a murder charge against a second transit officer involved in the shooting death of a 22-year-old Black man at a train station in 2009, saying the officer did not personally kill Oscar Grant or aid or abet the officer who did.

Grant was killed in the early hours of New Year’s Day, shot in the back by Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer Johannes Mehserle while on the floor of a train station in Oakland. A Los Angeles County jury found Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter and he served 11 months.

In October, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley reopened the investigation into Anthony Pirone, a former BART officer who hauled Grant out of a train car and pinned his knee to Grant’s neck and back in a manner similar to that used in the death of George Floyd last year.

Grant’s family had sought criminal charges against Pirone for years and at a news conference Monday, his mother, the Rev. Wanda Johnson, continued her call for justice, the Bay Area News Group reported.

“My son laid on the cold concrete with that Officer Pirone’s knee on his neck. My son’s head was smashed against the wall and he was kicked and he was pushed. Pirone still walks around free today,” Johnson said.

In a 16-page memo, O’Malley said that no matter how “offensive or unacceptable” Pirone’s conduct that night, he did not fire the gun that killed Grant and there is no evidence that he knew Mehserle would fire his gun, which Mehserle said at trial he thought was his Taser.

Pirone contributed significantly to Grant’s shooting, the Bay Area News Group reported in 2019 after obtaining a 2009 BART police internal investigation report through a new state police transparency law.

The report found that Pirone disregarded his training and rushed through the initial investigation, starting a “cascade of events that ultimately led to the shooting of Grant.”

Pirone was fired for his role in the incident.

His attorney, Christopher Shea, did not immediately respond to an emailed requested for comment.

The incident was depicted in the 2013 film Fruitvale Station with Michael B. Jordan.