Marysol Domenici, 29, was fired Wednesday by interim Police Chief Dash Butler. He followed the recommendation of a law firm BART hired to do an independent internal affairs probe into the shooting by former Officer Johannes Mehserle, who faces a murder trial this summer.
Butler confirmed the move Thursday in a brief interview. He said he could not go into detail about the reasons for the firing because of privacy rights.
Domenici's attorney, Alison Berry Wilkinson, said her client had done nothing wrong, was a scapegoat in a "political decision" meant to placate the public, and would appeal her firing to an arbitrator.
Domenici had been on paid leave since the shooting along with her partner, Anthony Pirone, who was the first officer to detain Grant, 22, and four friends after a fight on a train. Pirone struck Grant at least once and made the decision to arrest him for allegedly resisting officers.
Mehserle then shot Grant, who was unarmed, while trying to handcuff him. His attorneys have argued that he meant to stun Grant with a Taser and accidentally used his pistol.
BART has not decided whether to fire Pirone.
Grant's shooting, captured on video, prompted community outrage and led to several reforms at BART. Whether Pirone and Domenici - who are key witnesses in Mehserle's case - deserve to be punished has long been a point of contention.
John Burris, a lawyer for Grant's family, called the firing appropriate, saying Grant would be alive if not for the actions of Domenici and Pirone.
Burris said Domenici had given false testimony at Mehserle's preliminary hearing, exaggerating the danger that seven BART officers faced on the train platform.
Lynette Sweet, a member of BART's board of directors, said the firing "sends the correct message to the public that we do hold people accountable for their actions."
Wilkinson said her client "recognizes this is a political decision." Domenici was faulted not for anything she did on the train platform, Wilkinson said, but for the way she recounted the incident to investigators and in her court testimony.
For example, Wilkinson said, Domenici was accused of not reporting that Pirone struck Grant with a knee. "I have video evidence that her back was turned," Wilkinson said. "I don't know how she's supposed to report something she didn't see."
The attorney called the internal affairs report by the Meyers Nave law firm "a hit piece with no factual basis. The conclusions were incredibly flawed and, quite frankly, BART should ask for its money back."
Kim Colwell, who led the investigation team for Meyers Nave, said she could not comment on the report's contents, but added, "I can say unequivocally that it was a solid, thorough, thoughtful and fair investigation."
Butler, a former Berkeley chief who joined BART in late December, said, "I've been a police chief for a long time, and I don't think anyone has ever said I did things out of political correctness. I have to make the right decision, and that's all there is."
Butler says he is not seeking the BART chief's job on a permanent basis.
This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle