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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oscar Grant Shooting Update - Other Officers Might Finally Be Investigated

As I reported on 01/11/09, my analysis of the publicly available BART shooting videos clearly indicated that a second officer could be seen punching Grant in the head prior to the shooting... we published that analysis a full two weeks ago, and finally it seems as though others are reaching the same conclusion that I did, as KTVU reported yesterday.
Photo of a security officer named Tony Pirone taken in 2004 at California's Lawrence Livermore Labs (pdf) matching the build, facial profile, and hair style of the officer seen in videos punching Grant and kneeling on his neck.

I also argued that it was this same second officer, now identified as officer Tony Pirone by The San Fransisco Chronicle, also appeared to be the same officer who "took a knee" on Grant's neck while he was laying face-down on the platform which would have caused enough pain to make in involuntarily squirm, which would explain what others are describing as a struggle, when it was clear he was cooperative up to that point.

This is why, when Mehserle was charged with murder for shooting Oscar Grant on 01/14/09, I argued that Mehserle should not be the only BART officer facing criminal charges. Now others are starting to agree as well and have forced BART officials to make a statement that they will order BART police to investigate the other officers who were there that night.

While it is encouraging that the media is finally taking notice to what the video evidence is showing and the BART authority has claimed it will investigate these "new revelations"... it's disturbing that, prior to today, the BART authority and the prosecuting attorney reviewing the case had indicated that they were not going to investigate any other officers up to this point.

I believe this clearly indicates the unwillingness of the investigating agencies to pursue this case, and here's why.

Let us assume that BART was being truthful when they claimed that officers at the scene of the shooting had confiscated numerous video recordings from passengers who had recorded the incident that night.

Let's also assume that even if those videos were merely taken to keep the evidence from going public and was erased, that BART authorities and others were able to review the videos that did go public... after all, they were publicly available.

Finally, let's assume that they at least had available to them the same technology I did when I reviewed the video evidence and had officers who were trained to analyze such evidence reviewing it.

If we make these very reasonable assumptions it becomes difficult to reconcile that BART officials have only just now indicated that the BART police department will now perform an internal investigation into Pirone's use of force that night and that, up to this point, District Attorney Orloff has indicated that he will not be investigating any other officers for criminal charges related to that night's events.

So, how is it that, up to today, Pirone has not been charged and was not being internally investigated by the BART PD for misconduct when the evidence released to the public clearly showed a case of excessive force? After all, if I was able to identify the actions of Pirone from analyzing the meager two videos that had been released to the public and the media was able to see it in their analysis later on, you can be certain that professional analysts and police officers who are trained to observe details would have seen it in their analysis of all the video evidence they professed to have collected that night...

Unless they merely collected that video evidence in order to cover it up.

Even then, even if they had disposed of all the evidence they had collected from other passengers that night and ignored witness testimony that most definitely would have indicated that officer Pirone had punched Grant prior to the shooting (in the video you can hear clear reactions from witnesses when Pirone punches Grant), there is still the publicly released videos that show the same story, that Pirone had used excessive force on Grant.

So, if the prosecutor and the BART PD had seen the same evidence that we've seen, the same evidence that had led me, the media, and several legal professionals to the conclusion that Pirone used excessive force, why is it that BART has just now pledged to look into allegations that Pirone used excessive force and why is it that the prosecutor is now refusing to comment on the investigation when he made it clear last week that he was not investigating the activity of any other officers who took part in that arrest and shooting?

Because BART and the city of Oakland are still unwilling to hold their officers accountable for their actions. There is simply no other explanation.

Given this... we can only wonder at all the other instances of abuse that have gone unpunished up to this point, and wonder how many more will be covered up in the future since BART and the city of Oakland have made it clear that they are unwilling to persue cases of misconduct to the best of their abilities in the absence of intense public pressure and scrutiny.

Worst of all, we must wonder at the chances for a successful prosecution of Mehserle when the prosecutor is clearly unwilling to fully investigate what and who ultimately caused the shooting death of Oscar Grant that night and hold those individuals accountable in the absence of public pressure to do so.

I fear, given the evidence at hand, that Mehserle will not be held accountable, and this will only serve to show other officers that they too can get away with murder even when their actions have been shown to the world.

Sadly, it just serves as more evidence that there are two justice systems in America, a fake system for the police, and a completely different one for the rest of us...


A Voice of Sanity said...

See B.C. newspaper delivery man claims bashing by police

Published: Sunday, January 25, 2009

VANCOUVER- A newspaper delivery driver who was allegedly assaulted, robbed and showered with racist slurs last week by three off-duty police officers says he thought he might die in the incident - and is grateful to learn the attack was witnessed by bystanders and security video.

"Thank goodness the city workers were there and someone called 911," said Phil (Firoz) Khan, 47, his head bandaged after being repeatedly kicked by three assailants early last Wednesday in front of the Hyatt Vancouver hotel.

"I was lucky they were there," he said. "I prayed to God. If this had happened in a back lane, I would be dead."

Three off-duty police officers from three different Metro Vancouver forces were arrested at the scene and spent the night in jail before being released later the next day.

Police have not released their names, but one suspect has been identified as Jeffrey Klassen, 38, a four-year veteran of New Westminster police. He has been suspended with pay.

The other two - a Delta officer, 28, with three years' service, and a West Vancouver constable on the job for 18 months - have been reassigned to desk duties.

Isn't this the way it should be handled?

Packratt said...

Yes, that is the way it should be handled, just as any other person would be treated when accused of a criminal act.

I actually posted about that story briefly here but haven't had time to do a follow-up on it.

While I know Vancouver had some significant problems with misconduct recently, it sounds like the new commander there really stepped up to the plate, which is an encouraging sign...

The ethics of a police force always flow from the top, while a good leader won't stop all misconduct, a bad one guarantees misconduct. So let's hope Vancouver responds similarly in the future.

Thank you very much for the comment, I truly appreciate it!

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