The 12th commemoration of the death of Oscar Grant is coming up in a matter of weeks, and the family says there’s unfinished business.
They are calling on the Alameda County District Attorney to charge another former BART police officer involved in the shooting with felony murder. The DA’s office is taking a second look at the case – but the family says they want answers now.
“I have been waiting 12 years through hurt, through tears, through pain,” said Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson.
Wearing a face mask stamped with an image of her late son, Johnson once again called on Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to bring a felony murder charge against another former BART police officer involved in her son’s death on New Year’s Day 2009.
“Anthony Pirone is the cause of the entire case. He was the one who physically assaulted and brutalized Oscar,” said John Burris, civil rights attorney.
Only former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle was charged in connection to Grant’s death. Ten years ago, a jury convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter for shooting an unarmed Grant in the back. The family’s legal team says the DA’s office dropped the ball when prosecutors only tried Mehserle and delayed charging Pirone.
“We were told at the time that there wasn’t enough money,” Burris said.
Back in October, the DA’s office said they were reopening the case. O’Malley says she’s assigned a working group to look over the case and says, “The group has been working diligently to conduct a thorough review of the facts and the law. The Office has been in close contact with the family to keep everyone informed of our progress.”
The family said they were told they would find out the DA’s decision after Christmas.
“We should be told now,” said Johnson. “We shouldn’t have to wait until after Christmas. The docs are there!”
So where is Pirone? He was fired from the force 10 years ago after an internal investigation and Burris said several years ago, Pirone tried to get his old job back.
“And that was unsuccessful,” Burris said. “That was a period of time when he was back, when the DA could have had access to him and could have charged him at the time.”
NBC Bay Area reached out to BART Police to find out if in fact Pirone tried to get his old job back. A spokesperson said an arbitrator upheld his firing but that they can’t publicly discuss who applies for jobs and who doesn’t get them.