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Officer In Fatal Shooting Resigns From BART Police

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 – updated: 2:56 pm PST January 7, 2009

Hours before a scheduled meeting with BART police investigators on Wednesday, the officer who fired the fatal shot that killed a Hayward man on New Year’s Day resigned from the transit agency.

In a news release, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the officer – identified in a civil claim as Johannes Mehserle – had through his attorney asked that the meeting with investigators be delayed until next week.

BART investigators declined the delay and scheduled a meeting with the officer for Wednesday morning. At that meeting, Mehserle’s attorney and his union representative submitted his resignation letter. He was not present.

BART officials have notified the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office of the resignation.

On Tuesday, BART officials told KTVU that the officer had received death threats and was under police protection. The threats have forced the officer to be moved twice.

Also on Tuesday, Oscar Grant III's family members alleged in a $25 million claim that BART officers violated the dead man's civil rights, illegally detained him and used excessive force.

The claim, filed by attorney John Burris on behalf of Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother, and Sophina Mesa, the mother of Grant's 4-year-old daughter, also names the BART police officer who shot Grant as Johannes Mehserle.

Grant, who worked as a butcher at an Oakland grocery store, "was unarmed and offered no physical resistance to BART police officers" before being shot shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, according to the claim.

Mehserle is seen on at least two video tapes firing his gun into the back of Oscar Grant as Grant lay on the floor of the Fruitvale BART station.

Burris says there are four videos of the shooting he knows of which bolster his case against BART and the officer.

"There's no such thing as a slam dunk other than basketball, but in terms of the case itself, we have very compelling evidence," said Burris

Still frames from video of the scene show Officer Mehserle minutes before the shooting. He appears to be wearing a Taser on his left hip and a gun on his right. There is also a female officer nearby with a Taser out of its holster and in her hand.

At one point, it appears Mehserle has drawn his Taser and was standing over Grant. Witnesses claim they heard Grant pleading with police to not be tasered.

Attorney Burris says the pictures not only show the shooting was unjustified, but that Mehserle should be charged with a crime.

"The videotape that we see where the person is being shot in the back while he is on the ground and not commiting a danger to the officer," said Burris "That's criminal conduct. To me that's murder. That's second-degree murder. "

Mehserle's attorney did not return phone calls to KTVU for this story.

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