Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why Did the BART Cop Shoot Oscar Grant and Other Challenges to Inner Peace?

Here is cell phone video from CNN on the Oscar Grant shooting near San Francisco (Oakland, Ca.).

Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesman Linton Johnson, I suppose, is one of the authorities asking for patience with an investigation of why a BART cop shot a young black father, Oscar Grant, New Year's Eve. After looking at the video and reading witness accounts, I think that's a whole lot of patience they're requesting as they say the officer is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. They also say that he's devastated.

Devastated. Oscar Grant appears to have been chest down and unarmed. I only have one question: What reason did the officer have for pulling his weapon at all?
Attorney John Burris called the shooting "unconscionable" and said he filed a $25 million claim with BART on Tuesday, alleging wrongful death and violation of civil rights by use of excessive force. BART has 45 days to respond, Burris said. ...

Burris said Tuesday that the young men had been celebrating the new year at a popular waterfront tourist spot, The Embarcadero. They were heading home when police pulled them from the train car.

Some of the young men were handcuffed, but not 22-year-old Oscar Grant. The video from the anonymous passenger shows Grant seated on the floor with his back against the wall.

Grant holds up his hands, appearing to plead with police. Burris said Tuesday that Grant was asking police not to use a Taser.

"He said to them, 'Don't Tase me; I have a 4-year-old daughter,' " Burris said.

The interaction on the video is not audible.

Seconds later, police put Grant face-down on the ground. Grant appears to struggle.

One of the officers kneels on Grant as another officer stands up, tugs at his gun, unholsters it and fires a shot into Grant's back.

Burris said the bullet went through Grant's back and then ricocheted off the floor and through his lungs.

Grant, who has a 4-year-old daughter, died seven hours later, KTVU reported. (CNN story)
Today, I'm supposed to be writing another post on happiness for another site. Over the last few days I've been struggling that topic, however. Don't know if it's my recent contemplation of black men being shot by white vigilantes during Hurricane Katrina and the incidents not being investigated that has me deaf to happiness, the horrific murder of Ja'Shawn Powell by his own father, or the controversy swirling around Adolph Grimes, who was shot 14 times (12 times in the back) by undercover New Orleans Police officers that has me struggling with the happiness topic, and now I'm mulling over Danatus King's warning to New Orleans regarding race relations and the Grimes shooting.
"We say this is ‘The City That Care Forgot,’ but we haven't forgotten to care," Thompson said. "And we care about this family that's grieving right now."

"We often hear a phrase about a tipping point," said Danatus King of the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP. "Right now, we may not realize it, but we're at a tipping point when it comes to race relations in the city. So, we'll be pushing to have a complete, open investigation." (NOLA.com)
We're about to inaugurate the first African-American President of the United States in history, and yet we still may count racism or racially-tinged incidents as an evil specter in our lives.

Then there's the Gaza mess or Middle East drama in general, political scandals, and what else ... global warming, the end of humankind? Hmm, we may all be at a "tipping point" for debilitating unhappiness and a psychic implosion as we read local to world news.

I'm not unhappy. Concern for the planet, its inhabitants, and loved ones is normal. If we let the madness of this world throw us into sorrow, we'll never have a moment's peace, let alone happiness.

Oh, well, back to working on that post about what in the world brings joy, a fleeting emotion. The Blue Bird of Happiness is a myth.

Other links:

6 comments:

Blue State Cowgirl said...

We're just sick about this in the Bay Area and the answers just don't seem to be forthcoming.

Sometimes it seems every time you think times are changing, events indicate otherwise. Call me naive, but I didn't even know BART police could carry guns. They're TRANSIT police, not real cops. What most of us want to know is, what sort of training do these guys have before being allowed to carry guns?

Harry said...

Here, educate yourself:

http://www.bart.gov/about/police/

Vérité Parlant said...

Harry, thanks for that link. Since they're such hot dogs, I wonder even more, "What reason could that officer have had for pulling his weapon at all?"

Vérité Parlant said...

Blue State, it's sad news. I don't see how they're going to let this particular officer stay on the BART force. You shoot a guy who's on the ground, chest down, while another officer's subduing him, seems indefensible.

tahoe.timber said...

After seeing this video from 4 angles, and another 2 angles from BART security cameras (which BART is not releasing), it is simply stupifying to hear the authorities say they need more time to determine what actually happened and if the shooting was justified. They are saying it is important not to jump to conclusions. Sure, it is, but I do believe that 2 jets crashed into the WTC on 9/11/01, and I do believe this cop shot a handcuffed, prone, physically neutralized, citizen in the back at point=blank range. If this kind of thing is excused, the nice liberal Bay Area could be seen as having turned into a fascist state. It is 2nd degree murder all the way folks and you know this guy's defense lawyer will want a judge, not a jury! The cop probably just got sick and tired of all the rancor around him and said to himself "F!@# it dude, you're gonna die, MF!", then stood up, drew, and executed the guy with no concern about getting in trouble for it.

Another aspect is that the skinhead cop who is still leaning over the victim must be deaf and is lucky he wasn't blinded by lateral muzzle blast. His face was less than 30" away, almost directly across on a line parallel to the ground from the muzzle. (Barely above the muzzle.) That's a very loud and dangerous place to be. There must be a regulation against endangering another officer! The weapon looks like a double action revolver; most likely a 357 magnum load, since it went all the way through and bounced off the pavement underneath. How could this be justified? What if the ricochet hit another cop or passenger; would that have been OK too? Oh, I'm sure they would have blamed the victim for having caused the whole event anyway.

Any notion that he could have mistaken his service revolver for his taser gun is ridiculous, though I suppose psychologically anything is possible. Its kind of like an airline pilot telling the traffic cop he thought he needed to go over 120mph to get his BMW off the ground. "Aw, you understand officer, it was just the wrong vehicle on the wrong strip of pavement." Yea right. Seriously though, if it is a revolver, that has a very different feel, look, and trigger pull than a tazer.

Hopefully justice will prevail, and this fascist scumbag will get a serious jail sentence. In any case BART will probably have to pay $25 million to the family; that's almost a given at this point. Maybe they can take it out of the BART cops' pension fund; that might make them all be just a little more careful when they feel the need to murder someone.

Blue State Cowgirl said...

I'm still not buying that BART police are well trained enough to be carrying weapons. It would take a lot of specialized training, I would think, to be trust-worthy to carry a gun in an enclosed space like BART.

According to this article, BART police, and this officer in particular, had 72 hours of gun training.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/09/MNQV156LHC.DTL&tsp=1

Clearly from what happened, this is NOT enough training.