BART will pay the mother of Oscar Grant III $1.3 million in a settlement deal brought on by the death of her son at the hands of an BART police officer, the agency announced Tuesday.
“No amount of money could replace Oscar. Not $1 or $100 million,” Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, said during a news conference in Oakland. “My heart feels broken for the loss of my son.
“It didn’t have to be this way.”
Grant was fatally wounded after being shot by BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle while laying facedown on the platform of the Fruitvale station on New Year’s Day 2009. Mehserle had claimed that he thought he was firing his taser when he shot Grant by mistake with his gun.
Grant’s mother filed a $50 million lawsuit against the agency for its role in the death of Grant. On Tuesday, the two sides agreed to a settlement that will pay Johnson $1.3 million, according to BART spokesman Linton Johnson.
“No matter what anyone’s opinion of the case may be, the sad fact remains that this incident has left Wanda Johnson without a son,” BART board member Lynette Sweet said. “We’re working hard to make the Police Department the best it can be for our officers, our customers and our community. This settlement is critical in our efforts to move forward.”
This will be the second and final settlement paid out to a member of Grant’s family since his death. In January 2010, BART delivered a $1.5 million settlement to Grant’s then-5-year-old daughter, Tatiana.
“It’s a stage where we start to bring closure to a tragedy — a tragedy for everyone, the Grant family, the Mehserle family,” BART lawyer Dale Allen said. “A tragedy that was an accident, a mistake based on a jury verdict. This settlement will hopefully help everyone move on.”
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter as a result of Grant’s death. The former BART police officer was released from county jail earlier this month after serving 11 months of a two-year sentence.
“What’s sad for us as a family is we’ve spoken from day one that we want accountability and an apology,” said Cephus “Bobby” Johnson, Grant’s uncle, noting the family will continue to monitor police reforms BART has prososed and implemented. “There’s many more battles on this front and we’re going to fight it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
BART made several changes in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III on New Year’s Day 2009 by then-Officer Johannes Mehserle.
- Established Office of the Independent Police Auditor
- Created Citizen Review Board, an 11-member panel that reviews, recommends and monitors police practices, policies and procedures, as well as deals with complaints about officers and discipline
- Hired new police chief
- Increased by nearly three-fold the amount of officer training, including firearms, Taser and cultural-diversity training
- Increased presence of officers in stations and on trains
- Required officers to report all uses of force, not just those deemed significant; established protocol to review such incidents