The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of California has ruled that the father of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old man shot and killed by Bay Area Rapid Transit police, cannot pursue monetary damages.
On New Year’s Day 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was detained and handcuffed by Bay Area Rapid Transit police at the Fruitvale station in Oakland, California. Grant was lying facedown on the platform of the station when former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot him in the back of the head. Mehserle claimed he thought he fired his Taser instead of his gun. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison.
Oscar Grant’s mother filed a $50 million lawsuit against the BART before settling in 2010 for $1.3 million. Oscar Grant’s father, Oscar Grant II, filed his own lawsuit shortly after claiming that his son’s death caused him a “loss of familial relationship.” In July 2014, a federal jury unanimously decided that the elder Grant was not owed any compensation. The decision was appealed, but now the Ninth Circuit has published a ruling that affirms the jury’s decision.
Grant Jr. has been in prison since 1985 for a murder conviction, and in an interview Tuesday his attorney Waukeen McCoy said the jury was biased against him because of his record.
“They think he’s a menace to society because he’s in prison. But this is a totally separate issue,” McCoy said. “Obviously he had a familial relationship with his son visiting him all of his life when he was in prison. It wasn’t the same relationship as someone else, but all families are different. This was a unique situation and they just disregarded that because he’s in prison.”
McCoy said the bias against his client is evidence that the courts “do not afford prisoners the same rights as other people.” The Ninth Circuit panel disagreed.
“Among other deficiencies, the claims of the Grant III Estate had already been duly settled for $1.3 million by Wanda Johnson, the decedent’s mother and authorized ‘personal representative,’ leaving no cause of action for this plaintiff,” the Ninth Circuit panel wrote in an unpublished memorandum.
Whether you think Oscar Grant’s father deserves monetary damages or is just a money hungry criminal, the fact is a man was murdered. Although the police officer in this case was held accountable and sentenced to jail time, he received significantly less time than the average person would if they shot someone at point-blank range.
This is because the police are a privileged class that follow different rules than the rest of the population. Together with the political and corporate class they make up the State that seeks to strip you of freedom and happiness. Imagine what would happen if our communities started organizing against these violent criminals and peacefully prevented the murder of our people? It’s time to start having those conversations. But let us not forget those who have fallen, especially Oscar Grant.
Every year since his death, supporters have gathered to protest and celebrate his life. On the 6th anniversary of his death, Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson remembered her son and a positive light and gave thanks to supporters. “I know Oscar is looking down and he’s smiling, seeing a whole sea of people getting together to celebrate him and to celebrate life,” she said.
Derrick is available for interviews.
This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.