Cephus Johnson had tears in his eyes as he recalled the last text message he would ever send to his 22-year-old nephew.
"Happy New Year ... I love you," the message sent at 12:49 a.m. Thursday.
Johnson never received a response.
"I wondered why he didn't text me back, and then I found out why," Johnson said.
Oscar Grant III, the best man at Johnson's wedding and known to his family as being a loving father, a hard worker and a sports enthusiast, was fatally shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer at Oakland's Fruitvale station about an hour after his uncle sent him the text message on New Year's Day.
BART officers responded to the station to reports of a fight on a train around 2 a.m. The train Grant was on stopped at the station to let the officers break up the supposed brawl.
BART Police Chief Gary Gee released a statement today that said, "On behalf of the BART Police Department and the entire BART organization, we want to express our condolences to the family of Oscar Grant. I want to assure Mr. Grant's family and the public that we are taking this investigation very seriously."
Mario Pangelina, who is the brother of Grant's daughter's mother and was riding on the same train but two cars behind, said, "There was so much commotion."
Pangelina and other witnesses said Grant was begging not to get Tasered because he had a 4-year-old daughter.
"He was not acting hostile," Pangelina said.
Other witnesses said Grant presented no threat to anyone and was lying on his stomach on the station's platform with his back to the officers when he was shot.
Then a bullet entered Grant's back and ricocheted to his lung area, killing him almost immediately, according to John Burris, an Oakland civil rights attorney who was hired by Grant's family to investigate the death.
"He was not doing anything of a threatening nature to the officer," Burris said.
Gee said in the statement, "As frustrating as it is, I want to stress that we cannot and will not jeopardize this case by discussing details before the investigation is complete."
He also stated, "This case is not even four days old - we are in the early stages of the investigation and will do a thorough job."
Burris, who has filed numerous lawsuits against police departments on behalf of family members of those who have been shot and killed by officers, announced at a news conference today he plans to file a $25 million lawsuit Monday.
Burris said he will also urge the Alameda County District Attorney's Office to consider filing criminal charges against the officer who shot Grant.
Video recordings of the shooting taken by witnesses have since surfaced, and BART police reportedly confiscated numerous other cell phones from witnesses that Burris said he believes contain additional footage.
BART officials have said the officer's gun discharged, which Burris vehemently disagrees with.
"This was an intentional pulling of the trigger," Burris said today.
Gee's statement said BART investigators are reviewing all evidence and are cooperating with the Alameda County District Attorney's office, which is also conducting an investigation.
He asked the public to refrain from jumping to conclusions. He provided a BART tip line, (877) 679-7000 ext. 7040, and the district attorney's office general phone number, (510) 272-6222, for anyone who has evidence or witnessed the incident.
Grant's family has scheduled a memorial service at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Palma Ceia Baptist Church at 28605 Ruus Road in Hayward.