The family of Oscar Grant III Friday renewed calls for murder charges against former BART officer Anthony Pirone, who with then-BART officer Johannes Mehserle was involved in the attempted arrest that led to Grant’s death on New Year’s Day 2009.
Cephus X Johnson, Grant’s uncle, along with other family members, former Black Panther Party chair Elaine Brown, Oakland attorney John Burris and others, gathered Friday morning at the Fruitvale BART station where Grant was killed 12 years ago to the day.
While Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Grant, 22, on New Year’s Day after responding to a report of a fight on a BART train, Pirone was not charged for his involvement in the shooting.
Referring to a video that was taken of the incident, Johnson said, “Tony Pirone, with his 250 pounds on Oscar’s neck, his hand on Oscar’s face. You can hear in the video Oscar saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’”
A 2009 report on the case by former Oakland City Attorney Jayne Williams and then-attorney Kimberly Colwell of the law firm Meyers Nave found that Pirone, who knelt on Grant’s back and pinned him to the ground, “started a cascade of events that ultimately led to the shooting of Grant.”
Burris said in an interview Friday, “I was the one who did the civil case at the beginning. We at the time were demanding that Anthony Pirone be prosecuted. It was clear that Anthony Pirone started the whole thing.”
Burris said, “The DA has said they would take a look at it, but nothing has taken place so far.”
On Oct. 5, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office said O’Malley would reopen the investigation into the circumstances of the fatal shooting.
The district attorney’s office issued a statement that day confirming that it would reopen the case.
“I have assigned a team of lawyers to look back into the circumstances that caused the death of Oscar Grant,” O’Malley said in a statement Oct. 5. “We will evaluate the evidence and the law, including the applicable law at the time and the statute of limitations and make a determination.”
Calls and emails to O’Malley’s office were not immediately returned Friday.