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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oscar Grant Supporters Petition Department of Justice to Investigate BART

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 5:00 PM

The fight continues
  • The fight continues
More than 500 people have signed a petition urging the United States Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to speed up its investigation of Oscar Grant's death at the Fruitvale BART station in 2009. Last year, before ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in November 2010, the department said it would launch a federal investigation with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office to explore whether BART officers, including Mehserle, violated Grant's civil rights.

Organizers with the online activist site Change.org said community members have protested outside the Department of Justice building in Los Angeles and met with its officials, but still have no answers about the status of the investigation.

"Justice Department officials announced that they would investigate the events that led to Grant's killing, but so far have made none of their findings public," according to a news release by the group.

To make matters tenser, Mehserle was recently released from prison for good behavior after serving 11 months of his two-year sentence. This has infuriated those who don't believe Mehserle's defense that he meant to reach for his Taser instead of his gun when he shot and killed Grant.

"The fact that a police officer can serve less than a year in jail for taking the life of a young black man has galvanized the communities of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond," Change.org campaigner Nadra Kareem Nittle said in a statement.

A "separate sovereigns" exception to double jeopardy allows the federal and state governments to separately prosecute someone for the same act.

On Tuesday, BART paid a $1.3 million settlement to Grant's family after his mother, Wanda Johnson, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit. Yet, according to the Chronicle, nowhere in the deal did BART acknowledge wrongdoing on its part. The settlement was in addition to the $1.5 million BART paid to Grant's 7-year-old daughter, Tatiana, in 2010.

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Taylor Friedman

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