Saturday, January 10, 2009

BART Transit Police Spokespeople Vague & Deliberately Misleading About Grant Shooting

BART board president, Thomas Blalock, said in an interview with ABC7 News, that he could not "pull anything factual" from the cell phone videos that show a two-year BART cop pulling his gun out and shooting an unarmed Grant in the back while another officer had his knee on Grant's neck. How anyone can watch that video and then say he "can't pull anything factual" from it is beyond me.

Additionally, despite the videos clearly showing Grant on the ground face-first with a police officer kneeling on his neck, BART spokesman Jim Allison stated that Grant was "not restrained" when shot. In other words, the BART spokesperson is lying.

Furthermore, Alex Jones reports that Spokesperson Allison claimed that BART had no videos of the shooting, even though BART had confiscated the cellphones of many witnesses who were recording. I can't find a clip or other citation of Allison saying this, but it seems crazy that BART would be claiming not to have videos, given that it says on the BART website that "the District also utilizes video-surveillance systems in trains, stations, and parking lots." So in addition to lying about not having video (according to Jones) even though they confiscated the cell-phones, it's like BART doesn't even care since they are flat-out contradicting the information right on their website!

Upon further perusal of the BART website, it seems that BART police are not a part of the local police departments and are "an autonomous law enforcement agency," according to their website. It's not at all clear what this means and what kind of oversight they have to report to, but it's clear that there needs to be more oversight. The Courage Campaign has a petition you can sign, asking the government to create a civilian oversight board for BART. I should also point out that the BART website says that "Qualifications and training for BART police officers exceed the mandates of the state's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, which certifies all California peace officers." Given that, one wonders about the speculation that Johannes Mehserle, the police officer who shot Grant, accidentally reached for his gun instead of his taser. Shouldn't their fancypants training be covering not reaching for a deadly weapon when your partner is kneeling on a victim's neck? For that matter, why did he even need to get out his taser for chrissakes?

H/T Alex Jones < /snirk >

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