Nearly a decade after a BART police officer shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale station in Oakland on New Year's Day, some are asking what has changed.
On Tuesday, the community honored Grant's life, and it called on the powers that be to ensure police accountability. Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, and the Oscar Grant Foundation hosted a vigil at the station where he died Jan. 1, 2009, after he was shot in the back by BART Officer Johannes Mehserle during a struggle.
Mehserle said he meant to pull his Taser and instead drew his firearm. He was charged with second-degree murder and convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
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Johnson said her son did not die in vain.
“He was not the first young man to be killed at the hands of the police, but through his death, I believe it woke up America and then it later formed Black Lives Matter," Johnson said. "We have to hold those accountable for their actions, and the only way they can be held accountable is if we bring it to the forefront."
Grant's daughter, who was only 4 years old when he died, has mixed feelings.
"It’s sad because I don’t have my father, but it’s also a good thing that I see a lot of people that actually support and come out and take their time to be here for him," Tatiana Grant said.
BART issued a statement Tuesday, saying in part: "Since the tragic death of Oscar Grant ten years ago, BART and its police department have strived to modernize, improve and reform BART’s policing services while increasing transparency and accountability."
Advocates are hoping one day the station will be renamed Grant Station, but BART said its policy doesn't allow for stations to be named after persons. In the meantime a mural memorializing Grant is in the works.