Family of Man Killed by BART Police Wants $25M

New video surfaces showing chaotic scene

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.

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