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Oscar Grant's Family Attorneys Renew Calls For Murder Charges

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- The attorneys representing the family of Oscar Grant renewed calls for the Alameda District Attorney to bring murder charges against one of the BART police officers involved in Grant's death more than a decade ago.

Attorneys John Burris and Charles Bonner held a press conference Thursday morning in front of Oakland City Hall to call for felony murder charges brought against former BART officer Anthony Pirone.

"This is a period of time of reckoning. We are in a position now for the district attorney to come forward and acknowledge that the failure to take action before was wrong," Burris said.

Grant died early New Year's Day 2009 after being shot in the back while laying on his stomach on the BART Fruitvale Station platform. Only former officer Johannes Mehserle has been charged in connection to Grant's death; Mehserle was tried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2010. A judge sentenced Mehserle to two years in jail minus time served, and Mehserle was paroled after 11 months.

READ MORE: Alameda County District Attorney To Reopen Investigation Into BART Police Shooting Of Oscar Grant

Grant's family sued BART for $25 million and the two parties settled for $2.8 million in 2011.

Calls for Pirone to be charged came after a report from an internal affairs investigation was unsealed in 2019. The report claimed that Pirone's actions were "aggressive and unreasonable" and noted that he used a racial epithet against Grant when he was being detained.

Grant's family called on Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to reopen the investigation following the news, which O'Malley did earlier this year, after the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. The two deaths were related, as Pirone used the same chokehold on Grant that killed Floyd.

Since O'Malley's announcement in October, her office has been silent in the matter, according to Burris. He noted in the press conference Thursday that O'Malley has a chance to undo the mistakes her office made in the past with Grant's case.

"They've delayed taking action in such a way that's been hurtful to the community, hurtful to the family, hurtful to justice," Burris said. "There's a real sense that we can commit this kind of crime and no harm will come to you."

READ MORE: Oscar Grant's Family 'Cautiously Optimistic' After Meeting With DA About Charging BART Officer

The attorneys are asking O'Malley to file felony murder charges against Pirone. With the passing of California Senate Bill 1437 in 2018, defendants can be charged with felony murder for aiding and abetting a killing.

Bonner and Burris said they want the murder charge against Pirone to deter from future incidents and demonstrate to the Black community that its government cares.

"We're tired of crying over the death of our people," Bonner said. "Whenever and wherever a cop kills a Black person, we will hunt you down, we will bring you to justice, prosecute you and we will put you in jail. And we will be unwavering in that commitment."

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