Grant Family Awarded $3 Million
July 7, 2011
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Almost $3 million is being awarded to members of slain BART passenger Oscar Grant III’s family this week, as the transit company seeks to settle a federal lawsuit.
Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot by former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on January 1, 2009 on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station.
Mehserle was charged with Grant’s murder but was convicted of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter at a highly publicized trial-—which took place in Los Angeles County due to concerns that Mehserle would not receive a fair trial in Alameda County.
On June 13, Mehserle was released from the Los Angeles County Jail after serving just over one year of a two-year sentence. He was released early because of credits he had accumulated and was never sent to prison, according to news reports.
On June 28, BART agreed to pay $1.3 million to Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother. In 2010, BART agreed to pay a $1.5 settlement to Tatiana Grant, Grant’s daughter.
Both sums, totaling $2.8 million, represent only a fraction of the more than $50 million sought in a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit filed by John Burris, the family attorney, in 2009.
“No amount of money can replace Oscar and if I receive $1 or $100 million, it still would not bring Oscar back,” Johnson said at a news conference after the settlement announcement.
At CSU East Bay, where news of Grant’s death and the events that followed hit close to home, some students feel the settlement was insufficient.
“Money won’t buy him back and the fact that they settled was not enough,” said Health Sciences major Francie Savangsy.
According to news reports, BART made no admission of liability or constitutional violations in agreeing to the settlement. As such, Burris said their decision to pay a significant amount of money is a major admission of wrongdoing.
Grant’s family and supporters will continue their fight for justice in the civil courts system and urge the Federal Department of Justice to continue their investigation into the shooting, ABC 7 news reported.
The third civil suit against BART for the amount of $1.5 million filed by Grant’s friends—who were arrested and detained the night of the shooting—have yet to be concluded, according to news reports.