Jan. 14, 2009
Why hasn't BART apologized?
Actually, BART has repeatedly apologized and expressed its condolences to the family of Oscar Grant. The first expression of sympathy came during a New Year's Day press conference just hours after Mr. Grant died. BART has also personally met with members of Mr. Grant's family to express condolences.
Now that the former officer has been arrested, what happens next?
Former officer Johannes Mehserle waived an extradition hearing in Douglas County, Nevada, and will be returned to Alameda County. The District Attorney has indicated he will be arraigned on January 15, 2009.
What are the charges Mehserle is facing?
The District Attorney's office has charged former officer Johannes Mehserle with murder.
Who is investigating the shooting?
This tragic occurrence is the subject of investigations by the BART Police, Oakland Police, and the Alameda County District Attorney, with a representative of the State Attorney General's Office observing. The BART probe includes both the criminal investigation and an internal investigation into whether BART police officers followed the department's policies and procedures. BART has a team of nine fully-qualified detectives investigating the shooting.
When did the investigation begin?
The investigation began just moments after the shooting.
BART detectives completed their preliminary investigation on Monday, January 12, 2009, and provided the results to the Alameda District Attorney's office. The D.A.'s office is conducting a separate independent investigation.
Why wasn't the officer questioned immediately after the shooting?
BART did ask the officer for such a statement at the time of the incident but he invoked his Fifth Amendment Right and was represented, at the scene, by legal counsel. Subsequent attempts to compel the officer to provide a statement were thwarted when the officer failed to show for a scheduled meeting with BART investigators and his attorney submitted the officer's letter of resignation.
Can't BART force the officer to answer questions?
Like all California police agencies, BART is required to comply with Government Code 3300-3313 (Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights) whenever a peace officer is accused of wrongdoing, whether administrative or criminal The law outlines the required procedures before a law enforcement agency can interrogate a peace officer accused of misconduct. These requirements often mean that peace officer investigations are delayed longer than investigators would like, but to violate these requirements could jeopardize the process. While frustrating, law enforcement cannot discuss details of the investigation during this period of fact finding. To do otherwise could undermine the ability to seek criminal prosecution or administrative discipline, if the facts justify these actions.
Why wasn't the officer arrested immediately?
BART Police are full-time peace officers under the California Penal Code. They are authorized to carry and discharge weapons in the line of duty. All discharges are investigated and if reasonable and probable cause exists that a crime was committed by a peace officer, he/she is subject to arrest by arrest warrant or Grand Jury indictment. An investigation was immediately commenced and the DA was involved pursuant to BART policy.
What are the steps in the investigation?
Immediately after the shooting, the BART platform was cordoned off as a crime scene and police began collecting physical evidence, such as the shell casing, the officer's gun and the officer's gun belt. The officers who were on the platform during the shooting were sequestered and prevented from speaking with each other. Each officer was questioned, with the exception of the officer who shot his gun. (see above answer). All of the officers were tested for gun residue. Investigators also interviewed potential eyewitnesses to the shooting and collected cell phone video of the shooting. Later, video from a BART platform camera was reviewed. Detectives also interviewed more than 40 people who called into detectives on a special phone line.
What should I do if I think I have information in this case?
You can call BART Police Detectives at (877) 679-7000 or call the District Attorney's office at (510) 272-6222.