Five friends of Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old who was fatally shot by a San Francisco Area Rapid Transit police officer, have reached a deal to settle a federal lawsuit against the agency, reports the Associated Press.
Jack Bryson Jr., Nigel Bryson, Michael Greer, Carlos Reyes and Fernando Anicete Jr. will split $175,000 - approved by the BART board - as part of the settlement reached late last month, said their attorney John Burris.
The men filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for $1.5 million in 2009 claiming excessive force and illegal detainment. Burris said that they are relieved that the case is over.
“This closes a very traumatic and tragic chapter for these young men,” he said. “Unfortunately, they will never get over witnessing their friend’s death.”
BART officials said the settlement closes the case for a “considerably smaller amount compared to what would have been a long and costly trial if allowed to move forward.”
On New Year’s Day 2009, the five men were detained on BART’s Fruitvale Station platform in Oakland along with Grant, who was shot and killed by then-BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. The entire event was recorded by bystanders and within hours posted online showing Mehserle, who is White, firing a bullet into the back of Grant, who was Black, as he lay face-down after being pulled off a train supposedly for fighting.
Mehserle said he meant to use his stun gun instead of his pistol, however, the shooting sparked a national debate on racial profiling, as well as a string of protests and racial tensions that sometimes turned violent. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
The shooting and the last day of Grant’s life were depicted in the movie, “Fruitvale Station,” and won awards at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, and Grant’s daughter, Tatiana, also received financial settlements from BART totaling $2.8 million as a result of the shooting.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)