BART to Assess Police Reforms Since Oscar Grant Shooting

The BART police chief is bringing in a former chief to assess how reforms are coming along in the department.

And by coincidence, it would appear, it's all happening the same week the highly acclaimed movie on the shooting of Oscar Grant will be screened to a private audience in Oakland.

Attorney John Burris has represented the family of Oscar Grant, and other clients who've sued BART for police misconduct. He applauds BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey for bringing back former BART Chief Patrick Oliver for an assessment of police reforms in the three years Rainey has been chief.

"I think its a good idea. I think departments do not like examining themselves, certainly by outsiders," Burris said. "You can become very insular and not really have the critical eye that's needed."

Oliver will look at 10 specific items, including the ones Burris considers most important: Training, use of force, biased based policing, internal affairs and discipline.

Thursday night Burris and other invited guests will watch "Fruitvale Station" at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland. It's the movie about Oscar Grant's last day -before he was shot on Jan. 1, 2009 when Officer Johannes Messerle claimed he mistakenly pulled his gun instead of his Taser and shot the unarmed Grant to death as he lay face down on the BART platform.

"I think BART is in a position to now say whatever problems were that created circumstances for the Oscar Grant incidents, they have been corrected," Burris said.

BART rider Chris Winn of Oakland says he has seen a change in the BART officers' demeanor.

"They smile more-sounds like a small thing. But it's fairly important. They come into the cars less intense, friendlier."

Another rider, Kelia Evans of Oakland, says much more work needs to be done.

"I remember I got attacked on BART and no one ever called me back about it," Evans said. "Three to four months ago, still haven't been called back about it."

"Fruitvale Station" opens to the public July 12.

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