OAKLAND — Minutes before Oscar Grant III was killed by a BART police officer, the 22-year-old was in a "scuffle" with another passenger as both rode on a crowded Dublin-bound train early Jan. 1, a friend of Grant's testified Tuesday.
The scuffle, Jamil Dewar said, occurred after the passenger's son was called a name by someone in Grant's group of friends, which sparked a wrestling match between Grant, of Hayward, and the passenger. The scuffle, however, lasted only seconds before Dewar and another friend grabbed Grant to break it up — just as the crowded train of revelers glided into the Fruitvale BART station, Dewar said.
It was that scuffle that prompted more than a half-dozen BART officers to storm the Fruitvale station and force Grant and his friends from the train and onto the platform. It also was that scuffle that eventually led to Grant's death at the hands of former Officer Johannes Mehserle, who is charged with murder for shooting Grant while he lay prone on the Fruitvale station platform.
Dewar, 16, refused to call the interaction between Grant and the passenger a fight, instead calling it a wrestling match and scuffle. Dewar said that although it had ended as the train reached the station, the passenger kept yelling at Grant to get off the train and continue the brawl.
"The guy was saying to Oscar, 'Wait till we stop. Wait till we stop,'"" Dewar said. "Oscar got out of the train. The other guy did not."
Dewar said he and another friend got off the train as well and immediately noticed a BART officer with an angry face, either running or walking fast toward them. Dewar said he and his friend jumped back on the train as the officer approached with a Taser pointed toward the crowd.
"He looked pretty angry toward us. He was walking toward us with the Taser pointed at us," Dewar said. "He said, 'Get out of the train. I know who you are.' He was saying, 'Get the (expletive) off the train.'""
It was at that point, Dewar said, that his friend took a step toward the door and was "aggressively" grabbed by the officer.
Eventually, Dewar walked onto the platform, as well, and began to record his five friends, including Grant, as they sat against the wall at the station with BART officers standing over them. Dewar never captured the moment when Mehserle shot Grant, but the shot was heard on the video, followed by Dewar screaming at the police.
Dewar's video was the last of three presented by deputy district attorney David Stein at the preliminary hearing Tuesday. Stein is trying to convince a judge that he has enough evidence against Mehserle to put the former officer before a jury on charges of murder.
While Dewar's video was the most blurry of the five shown in the case, two other videos presented as evidence Tuesday were the clearest, with one showing the flash of Mehserle's gun firing.
Daniel Liu, of Dublin, earned $1,000 from KTVU-Channel 2 for the video that showed the gun go off, he said in court Tuesday. Like the witnesses before him, Liu said he began to tape the events on the Fruitvale BART station platform because he felt police were abusing their power.
Liu said it appeared that at least one BART officer, Anthony Pirone, was agitated from the beginning and never seemed to care what Grant and his friends had to say after they were pulled from the train. Though Liu admitted that Grant and his friends acted "a bit fussy," he said Pirone allowed no wiggle room in dealing with them.
"They were trying to explain. "... Pirone didn't want to listen to them," Liu said. "(He was) a little frustrated."
Liu said everything appeared calm until Grant, who was sitting next to his friends against a wall, stood up and appeared to say something to the officers. Immediately, Liu said, Pirone and Mehserle moved toward Grant and tried to handcuff him.
"Oscar Grant did not look like he was resisting, but I remember clearly that Oscar Grant's left arm was moving up and down," Liu said. "I didn't know if he was resisting or what."
At that moment, the video showed, Mehserle grabbed his gun with his right hand, stood up, placed both hands around the gun and fired. After the shot was fired, Liu said, Mehserle looked shocked.
Another witness, Tommy Cross, who also recorded the shooting, said Mehserle said, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God," after he fired the gun.
Mehserle's attorney, Michael Rains, will begin calling witnesses today. Stein rested his case Tuesday. Once both sides are finished presenting evidence, Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay will decide if there is enough evidence to put Mehserle before a jury on charges of murder.