Update: Bart police have “confiscated numerous cell phone images” from witnesses, supposedly for evidence, according to Fox News. Did they have a court order for this?
Update II: Could a Taser gun be so easily confused for a firearm?
Breaking news update III: Officer Johannes Mehserle has resigned.
A BART police officer was caught on video pushing a suspect’s head to the ground before standing up, pulling his gun out of its holster and squeezing the trigger, killing the 22-year-old suspect instantly.
The incident occurred New Year’s Day inside a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland.
Seconds before the shooting, the unarmed victim, Oscar Grant III, can been seen on his knees lifting his hands in the air as if to show he was not resisting arrest. But at least two officers dragged him down as if to handcuff him, forcing the suspect’s chest and face on the ground.
That was when one officer stood up, pulled his gun out and shot him, possibly in the back or in the back of the head. After the shooting, the officer re-holstered his gun and placed his hands on his head, as if realizing what he had just done.
The officer, whose name is Johannes Mehserle, just turned 27 years old and is a two-year veteran of the police force, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. His first child was born a day or two after the shooting, which may be a reason he still hasn’t given a statement to police as to what happened that night.
Five days have passed since a BART police officer shot and killed an unarmed rider on a station platform, but the officer has not given a statement to investigators about what happened and the transit agency has apparently not forced him to do so.
John Burris, an Oakland attorney representing the family, says he plans to file a $25 million lawsuit against BART.
Burris, who has represented clients in more than a dozen officer-involved shootings, said he had never seen such a long delay before an officer makes a statement to investigators. He said it raises the possibility that the statement could be affected by the video footage and by loss of memory, among other things.
“It’s pretty shocking to me,” Burris said. “When you delay like this, it raises questions about the integrity of the investigation. It raises the question, ‘What has BART been doing?’ You want to prevent collusion. You want to prevent people from tailoring their statements to the evidence.”
This incident once again proves the importance of citizens being allowed to film and photograph freely without intimidation or fear from authorities.
The actual shooting can be seen at 1:48 in the above video.
Another questionable arising is the fact that BART police have “confiscated numerous cell phone images” from witnesses, supposedly for evidence, according to Fox News.
BART police officers are fully certified and have the same authority as city or county law enforcement officers. They are in charge of enforcing the law on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, which is the fifth busiest rail system in the country and serves four counties in the San Francisco bay area.
Another video news story with more information.
Thanks to Photography is Not a Crime reader Spokker for the heads up on this story.