No one appeared to be in charge and "communication failures were prominent" when BART police responded to a disturbance at the Fruitvale station on New Year's Day that ended in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a BART police officer, according to a report released Tuesday by a law firm hired to investigate the BART response.
The law firm, Meyers Nave, was hired to review BART policies, practices and procedures as they relate to the New Year's Day incident, in which BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant III on the station's platform. Mehserle later resigned from the force and now faces trial for murder.
"The report clearly says we could have done a better job," BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger told reporters during a media availability Tuesday night in which she discussed changes already implemented by BART in response to the shooting.
Officers were called to the Fruitvale station in Oakland shortly after 2 a.m. New Year's Day in response to reports of a fight on a train.
The report states that the first officer to arrive should have acted as the incident commander. "The incident commander could then have calmed things by asserting command and control," the report reads.
Additionally, BART police officers failed to work as a team and did not follow an operational directive that outlines tactics that should be used when dealing with a hazardous situation on a train, according to the report.
The report also examines BART's Taser policy and protocols.
Mehserle's attorney has claimed that his client meant to use his Taser gun when he fatally shot Grant.
BART officials said Tuesday that the transit agency has already implemented some changes, including investigating all use-of-force incidents. A review panel has been established to examine those incidents and make recommendations to the chief of police, according to BART.
Dugger said Tuesday night the key now is to carefully review the report and take the necessary steps as quickly as possible, which include coming up with an "action plan" within the next 30 days.
Bay City News