BART Fires an Officer Involved With Oscar Grant Shooting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Ryan Hall, 26, protests the BART police shooting of an unarmed man, on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2006, in Oakland, Calif. Hall, who lives in Berkeley, was lying on the ground to demonstrate the position 22-year-old Oscar Grant was in when killed. Behind, police in gas masks and riot gear maintain a perimenter around protesters. (AP Photo/Noah Berger - San Francisco Chronicle) *** MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/NO SALES MAGS OUT-INTERNET OUT ***

    The attorney for the family of slain BART passenger Oscar Grant  III said that he believes BART's decision to fire Officer Marysol  Domenici for her involvement in the incident that led to his death was  well-supported by the evidence in the case.

          Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris said Domenici's conduct  at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland in the early morning hours of Jan.  1, 2009, when Grant allegedly was shot to death by former BART officer  Johannes Mehserle, as well her testimony at Mehserle's preliminary hearing last year "raise questions about her credibility and temperament."
         
    Domenici's lawyer, Alison Berry Wilkinson, couldn't be reached for  comment.

    BART spokesman Linton Johnson said Domenici's last day with the  transit agency was Wednesday, but said he couldn't comment on the reason for  her departure because it's a personnel matter. Johnson said she had been on  paid administrative leave from the time of the incident at the Fruitvale  station until Wednesday.

    Burris, who filed a $50 million wrongful death and civil rights  lawsuit on March 2, 2009, on behalf of Grant's family against BART, Mehserle,  Domenici and other officers, said he's been informed that the transit agency  fired Domenici.

    He said, "It would have raised credibility issues for BART if she  was not fired. It's good from BART's point of view because it shows that they  have standards and officers who are involved in a passenger's death and  aren't candid about what happened could lose their jobs."

    Mehserle, 28, is charged with murder for the shooting death of  Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man. His trial has been moved to Los Angeles  County because of extensive publicity in the Bay Area about the incident and  is scheduled to begin June 1.

    The former officer is free on $3 million bail and appeared in Los  Angeles Superior Court for a brief pretrial hearing.

    Mehserle, who resigned a week after the incident because he didn't  want to cooperate with BART's internal investigation, and other officers were  responding to reports that there was a fight on a train. Friends of Grant who  were with him at the time have given depositions stating that Grant was one  of the people involved in the fight.

    Mehserle's lawyer, Michael Rains, has admitted Mehserle shot and  killed Grant but claims that the shooting was accidental because Mehserle  meant to use his Taser stun gun on Grant but fired his gun by mistake.

    Domenici and fellow officer Tony Pirone were the first officers to  respond to a call for help at the Fruitvale station.
         
    When Domenici testified at Mehserle's preliminary hearing last  May, prosecutor David Stein asked her if she had exaggerated the potential  threat at the Fruitvale station to make it appear that officers were more in  danger than they really were.

    But Domenici denied that she had overstated the threat.

    Burris said BART is in the midst of administrative hearings for  Pirone and other officers that could result in them losing their jobs as  well.

    In another recent development in the case, U.S. District Court  Judge Marilyn Hall Patel on March 18 approved a $1.5 million settlement  between BART and Grant's 5-year-old daughter, Tatiana Grant. The settlement  was announced on Jan. 27.

    Tatiana, who is the daughter of Oscar Grant and his girlfriend,  Sophina Mesa, will get $1,088,427 from the settlement.

    Burris will receive $375,000 in attorney's fees, which represents  25 percent of the settlement, plus $36,573 for costs and expenses.

    BART has also been in settlement talks with Grant's mother, Wanda  Johnson, but no settlement has been reached thus far and the case is  tentatively scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 19.