BART Secures Dismissal of Oscar Grant Suit

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The father of a man shot and killed by Bay Area Rapid Transit police cannot seek monetary damages, the Ninth Circuit ruled Tuesday.
     In an unpublished order, the three-judge panel affirmed a federal jury’s 2014 verdict against Oscar Grant Jr.’s claim that his son’s killing caused him a “loss of familial relationship.”
     Grant Jr. has been in prison since 1985 for a murder conviction, and in an interview Tuesday his attorney Waukeen McCoy said the jury was biased against him because of his record.
     “They think he’s a menace to society because he’s in prison. But this is a totally separate issue,” McCoy said. “Obviously he had a familial relationship with his son visiting him all of his life when he was in prison. It wasn’t the same relationship as someone else, but all families are different. This was a unique situation and they just disregarded that because he’s in prison.”
     Grant Jr.’s son, Oscar Grant III, had been lying facedown and handcuffed on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day 2009 when BART officer Johannes Mehserle fatally shot the 22-year-old with a pistol that he claimed to have mistaken for a Taser.
     With Mehserle sentenced to two years in prison, BART reached a settlement in 2010 as to the $50 million lawsuit filed by Grant’s mother and daughter. They received $1.3 million and $1.5 million, respectively.
     The victim’s father meanwhile filed his own lawsuit. He’d tried to delay the trial by filing a last-minute amended complaint a week before the trial, which U.S. District Judge Edward Chen denied.
     “The record demonstrates that the court did not abuse its discretion,” the Ninth Circuit panel said in an unpublished memorandum. “Among other deficiencies, the claims of the Grant III Estate had already been duly settled for $1.3 million by Wanda Johnson, the decedent’s mother and authorized ‘personal representative,’ leaving no cause of action for this plaintiff.
     “Accordingly, the court correctly denied his motion to continue and to amend. The only possible claim proceeded to trial where he did not prevail. The jury rejected Grant Jr.’s claim that he had a ‘familial relationship’ with his son. No grounds exist to overturn their verdict.”
     McCoy said the bias against Grant Jr. continued all the way up to the appellate level.
     “I obviously disagree with them,” McCoy said of the panel’s ruling. “They just do not afford prisoners the same rights as other people. That was what was at play in this case, not the fact that he was harmed by Mehserle shooting his son.”

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