Vigil commemorates 10 years since Oscar Grant's shooting death by BART officer

A vigil was held Tuesday afternoon to remember Oscar Grant III, who was shot and killed 10 years ago by a BART police officer.

Just like in years past, Grant’s family held the vigil outside the Fruitvale BART station where he was killed. The 22-year-old from Hayward was shot just after 2:00 a.m. on New Year's Day in 2009 by BART officer Johannes Mehserle. 

Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, said she will continue to honor her son and fight for justice. She woke up at 2:00 a.m. and remembered the phone call she got a decade ago.

“I can't believe it's been 10 years since my baby boy has been gone,” Johnson said.

Grant’s death was captured on cell phone video. He was detained after reports of a fight on the train.

Grant was belly down on the platform when he was shot in the back by Mehserle. Grant was unarmed.

“I think that Oscar’s death was the catalyst to wake up America to let them know that we as a people have a long way to go,” Johnson said.

Former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle said he meant to use his Taser stun gun instead of the service revolver he used to shoot Grant on the platform of the Fruitvale station. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison. He was released from custody in 2011.

Speakers, poets, artists, community leaders, activists, lawyers and educators at the vigil joined family and friends. The Oscar Grant Foundation hosted the event. The organization works to bridge the gap between at-risk communities and law enforcement.

In the decade since Grant’s killing and subsequent protests, other officer involved shootings spurred the Black Lives Matter movement. Police departments nationwide have adopted officer worn body cameras. In California, several laws have passed regarding data collection on use of force incidents. Most recently, a law passed that requires body cam footage from critical incidents to be released within 45 days.

“We must have accountability to make transparency a reality,” Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle, said.

The Grant Family said they plan to unveil a mural of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station in March 2019. They are pushing to have the station name changed to the “Grant Fruitvale Station” and they want a small street outside the station named after Grant as well.