Mehserle's Partner Says Oscar Grant Cursed at BART Cops

BART police Officer Anthony Pirone testified Wednesday that Oscar  Grant III was uncooperative and had to be pulled off of a train when he and  other officers responded to reports that a group of passengers had been  involved in a fight at Oakland's Fruitvale station.

Testifying in the preliminary hearing for former BART police  Officer Johannes Mehserle, who's accused of murdering Grant, 22, at the  station about 2 a.m. on New Year's Day, Pirone said he approached a group of  people on the station's platform who matched a dispatcher's description of  five black males wearing black clothes who had been in a fight on a train.

Pirone, who smiled when he took the witness stand and was  questioned by Mehserle's lawyer, Michael Rains, said he was able to detain  three males but Grant and Michael Greer ran back onto a train and he lost  track of a woman who was with the five men.

Pirone, who was the first officer on the scene, said he pulled out  his Taser because there was a large group of people who weren't complying  with his commands.

Pirone, who's on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion  of several investigations into the incident, said Grant, a Hayward man who  worked as a butcher at an Oakland grocery store, entered one car on the train  and then went to the next car.

The officer said he eventually reached Grant, grabbed his elbow  and ordered him to go to a wall on the station's platform where his partner,  Officer Marysol Domenici, was keeping an eye on the other three men.

Grant "was cursing" and said things such as, "Why are you f---ing  with me" and "You ain't s---," Pirone said.

He said he then went back to the train and grabbed Greer.

The officer said when Greer assumed a combative stance and  clenched his fists, he grabbed Greer by his hair and "took him to the floor."

Pirone described his maneuver as "a hair-pull take-down."

The purpose of the preliminary hearing, which has met for five  days and won't resume until next Wednesday, is to determine if there's enough  evidence to have Mehserle, 27, ordered to stand trial on murder charges.

Rains has said that Mehserle meant to use his Taser on Grant and  fired his gun by mistake. He's also said that Mehserle shouldn't be charged  with murder because he didn't exhibit malice during the incident.

Pirone is the fourth BART police officer to testify on the witness  stand on Mehserle's behalf so far, following Domenici, Jon Woffinden and  Emery Knudtson.

The officers have generally described Grant as being uncooperative  and said that they encountered an unruly and noisy group of people on the  platform at the Fruitvale station.

In lengthy and aggressive cross-examinations of Domenici,  Woffinden and Knudtson during the past three court sessions, prosecutor David  Stein, who hasn't yet questioned Pirone, has alleged that the officers  exaggerated the facts about the incident to justify Mehserle shooting Grant  and to make it appear that they were in more danger than they really were.

But Domenici, Woffinden and Knudtson all said their testimony was  truthful and they didn't exaggerate anything.

Questioning Domenici today before Pirone took the witness stand,  Stein asked if she considered whether the reason that Grant and his friends  kept "popping up" from their positions on the ground was that Pirone "was  man-handling and being over-aggressive" when he pulled Greer off the train.

But Domenici said she doesn't think Pirone was being  over-aggressive.

Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, who has filed a $50  million lawsuit against BART, Mehserle, Pirone and Domenici on behalf of  Grant's family, said in an interview on Jan. 26 that he thinks Pirone was  "the instigator of the entire event" and set in motion a chain of events that  led to Mehserle shooting Grant.

Burris also wrote a letter to Alameda County District Attorney Tom  Orloff asking him to consider filing criminal charges against Pirone, but  Orloff hasn't done so.

Pirone told Rains that he has voluntarily given statements  about the incident to police and prosecutors even though he's been advised  that he's under investigation for possible criminal activity.

His attorney, William Rapoport, sat in the front row during his  testimony today.

Domenici, whose attorney, Alison Berry-Wilkinson, also sat in the  front row, said the situation on the Fruitvale station's platform was so  chaotic after Mehserle shot Grant that she thought to herself, "If I have to  I'm going to have to kill someone" and was concerned that she only had two  bullets.

Stein and Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay, who's  presiding over the hearing, both asked Domenici who she planned to shoot  first, but Domenici didn't give a direct answer.

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