OAKLAND (BCN) – A coalition is moving forward with a campaign to recall Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley even though she has decided not to seek re-election.
O'Malley announced Tuesday that she will not seek a fourth term in 2023.
The Justice 4 Oscar Grant Coalition is moving ahead with the recall campaign following O'Malley's decision not to prosecute BART police Officer Anthony Pirone for his part in the shooting death of Oscar Grant III. Grant died after BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot him early on New Year's Day 2009 at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland.
"O'Malley does not deserve to be considered for the office of District Attorney, having demonstrated her willingness to disregard the law and morality when it comes to the police killing of black people," the Rev. Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother, said in a statement.
"There is a mountain of evidence to prove this case of felony murder, but O'Malley has refused to put that evidence before a jury," Johnson said.
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the killing. Pirone knelt on Grant prior to the shooting and used a racial slur several times while pinning Grant to the ground. Pirone later said he was repeating what Grant was saying to him.
A 2009 report by former Oakland City Attorney Jayne Williams and then-attorney Kimberly Colwell of the law firm Meyers Nave that was released publicly a decade later argued "Officer Pirone's overly aggressive and unreasonable actions and conduct in violation of policy and acceptable standards contributed substantially to the escalation of the hostile and volatile atmosphere during the course of the incident."
It was that report that prompted Grant's family to ask O'Malley to reopen the case. The Grant family alleges Pirone played a larger role in their family member's death than just pinning the young man to the ground.
Pirone brutally assaulted Grant and held him down on the BART platform to let Mehserle shoot him in the back, according to the coalition.
The charge against Pirone would have to be premeditated murder because the statute of limitations has run out on the lesser charges of murder.
"While Pirone's overly aggressive conduct contributed to the chaotic nature of what transpired on the BART platform," the district attorney's office said in a report on its decision not to charge Pirone, "there was no evidence that Pirone knew in advance that Mehserle was going to shoot Mr. Grant."
Elected officials from all over the Bay Area have urged O'Malley to pursue charges, including state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, and now-state Attorney General Rob Bonta.
O'Malley told Johnson on April 29 that prosecutors would not seek charges against Pirone.
Once O'Malley's term is up, her replacement could seek premeditated murder charges against Pirone as the statute of limitations does not expire on first-degree murder.
Other support for an investigation of Pirone has come from Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, who is now president of the Board of Supervisors and the board itself, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the Oakland City Council, the Oakland Police Commission and BART's own board.
Still, the coalition said, O'Malley will not let a jury weigh in.
The coalition believes O'Malley is unfit for office and it does not want her to retire with benefits and potentially ordain her successor.
"The recall of Nancy O'Malley will not only guarantee O'Malley will never again be positioned to obstruct justice but also will send a strong message to all those who would seek to be Alameda County D.A., that the People of this County, the seat of which is Oakland, will not elect anyone not committed to bringing the Oscar Grant case to justice," said Alicia Garza, Black Lives Matter co-founder and a long-time supporter of the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement, in a statement.
The coalition said the recall effort is gaining ground.
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