OAKLAND — With the officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant III still refusing to speak to investigators, BART police completed their investigation into the New Year's Day shooting and handed the case over to the county prosecutor's office, officials said Monday.
"It is now the Alameda County District Attorney's responsibility to examine the evidence, complete his investigation and decide whether and which criminal charges should be filed," BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said. She added that she had urged District Attorney Tom Orloff to fast-track his own investigation and make his decision as quickly as possible.
Former officer Johannes Mehserle has appeared in several videos recorded by witness cell phones on New Year's Day firing his gun into Grant's back as Grant lays face down and restrained. Hundreds of protesters have rallied throughout the past two weeks, calling the shooting a murder and demanding Mehserle be arrested immediately.
BART police Chief Gary Gee said his department did not make a recommendation on whether charges should be filed against Mehserle.
Gee said that detectives interviewed six BART police officers who were on the Fruitvale station platform with Mehserle at the time of the shooting. He said they also interviewed 21 other people who witnessed the incident.
Gee said that Mehserle did have a stun gun at the time of the shooting — located on the opposite side of his belt from the
Orloff had said he would not decide until the end of next week whether to file charges against Mehserle, but after BART's announcement Monday, he said that time-frame could change. The transit agency's submission of its police report "may help me speed it up," he said.
The BART board of directors also declared Monday that a police department review committee would be staffed by four of the board's nine directors and charged with regulating policy policies and organizing a civilian review board.
The new committee will be headed up by Director Carole Ward Allen, whose district includes the Fruitvale station. Also on the committee will be directors Joel Keller, Tom Radulovich and Lynette Sweet.
Sweet's district includes the West Oakland and MacArthur stations, and she said after the meeting Monday that the board has been made to look like buffoons by Dugger and Gee, because they did not provide enough open information.
Sweet said that as of Monday afternoon the board had not received a copy of the report police sent to the district attorney's office, and that board members in general had been given information on what she perceived as a "need to know" basis.
"I only found out at the community meeting that we'd brought (Mehserle) in and tried to question him," she said. "Our lack of transparency has contributed to the public feeling that we're hiding something. We did do our due diligence. We did bring him in. Had I known that, I would have communicated it to the public."
Sweet said the public face of the investigation "was mishandled from way up top," and that if it were put to a board vote, she would vote in favor of removing both Dugger and Gee from office.
Gee did not return a phone call made to his office late Monday afternoon.
Sweet also expressed concern about the effectiveness of the new committee, explaining that unarmed black men have been shot by BART police twice before.
"We're going to try and put some meat on this committee, but what did the other two boards discuss? This could be a farce. I hope it's not," she said. "The community pressure is keeping this thing fueled, and I hope it keeps up. While the press is here, while the public is here, we're on it, but we need that energy to continue from within the board."
The exact scope of the committee is still being worked out, Sweet said.
Wire services contributed to this story.