A Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer this morning fatally shot an unarmed 22-year-old man on the platform of the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, but BART officials said the details of how the shooting occurred remain under investigation.
BART police were called to respond to a fight between two groups of men onboard a train traveling from San Francisco to the East Bay, spokesman Jim Allison said this afternoon during a news conference at BART headquarters in Oakland.
Five officers had gathered at the Fruitvale BART Station platform when the train arrived shortly after 2 a.m., Allison said.
Officers worked to separate the men, who were dispersed inside the train and outside on the platform, according to Allison. BART police did not say how many people were involved in the fight or what spurred the confrontation.
At some point during the effort to bring the men under control, a BART police officer's gun fired one bullet, hitting 22-year-old Oscar Grant, according to Allison.
According to Mike Yost, supervising coroner investigator with the Alameda County coroner's bureau, Grant was pronounced dead at 9:13 a.m. at Highland Hospital.
Allison said the preliminary investigation indicates that Grant was one of the men involved in the altercation that brought police to the station, which was closed until 2:45 a.m., when it was reopened to finish extended New Year's Eve service until 3 a.m.
Three or four people on the platform were put in plastic handcuffs, called "flexi-cuffs," during the effort to bring the scuffle under control, Allison said. Grant was not in handcuffs when he was shot, and police said it is unclear if Grant had been cuffed at any point before the shooting occurred.
"A preliminary investigation indicates that Mr. Grant was not restrained when the officer's firearm was discharged," Allison said.
Grant was unarmed and no weapons were recovered at the scene.
"The early investigation shows that he was on the platform, not on the train, and he may have been on the ground," Allison said, explaining he does not know the exact position Grant was in when he was shot.
Two men were taken into custody for questioning following the shooting but were not arrested, Allison said. No arrests have been made since the shooting occurred, and the officer has been placed on administrative leave and tested for both alcohol and drugs as part of standard BART police policy.
The officer involved in the shooting has served nearly two years for BART police, Allison said. His name has not been released.
BART police officers complete the same training as other law enforcement officers. Officers are licensed to make arrests and carry batons and sometimes tasers in addition to firearms, Allison said.
BART police patrol bureau Cmdr. Travis Gibson said it is too early to determine the justification for why the officer took his weapon out of the gun's holster.
Gibson said BART police recovered two firearms, one at the Embarcadero Station and the other at the West Oakland Station, earlier in the night. The night was busy on the BART system with New Year's Eve revelers out in full force, Gibson said.
The last fatal officer-involved shooting at a BART station occurred in April 2001, when an officer at the Hayward Station shot a man who later died, according to Allison.
This morning's shooting remains under investigation, Allison said.
"BART continues to investigate the legal aspects of this incident, it is also investigating the internal protocol and procedures," Allison said. "In addition to that, the District Attorney's Office is conducting a separate, independent investigation."
Anyone with information about this morning's shooting is asked to call (877) 679-7000, extension 7040.