This story is all over the world by now and many people are outraged, and reasonably so. I must first say, however, that rioting and destroying property and injuring others does not help the matter and, in fact, only makes those who are crying out for support and seeking justice seem that much more unreasonable… so please, stop the violent protests and use the proper channels… there are thousands of supporters around the country and globe, just like me, who want to see that justice is done.
This story involves the shooting of a suspect, who appears to be handcuffed while BART Police Officers were investigating an incident. It is not yet clear whether the officer was reaching for a Taser or other tool on his belt and inadvertently grabbed his gun (negligent homicide) or if he intentionally grabbed his weapon and fired, killing the suspect (murder). That fact may never be truly known, but by reviewing the videos from every possible vantage point and interviewing all the witnesses available, it is possible to ascertain that fact.
However, one of the blogs that I enjoy visiting belongs to Carlos Miller and is titled Photography is Not a Crime. On this site, Mr. Miller has edited the video that has flown around the world and managed to take a photographic still of the incident… it shows the suspect’s hands behind his back, the officer holding is gun, and the reactions of shock and fear on others faces. Carlos has also reduced the speed of the video to 50%. Below is the photo and both it and the video are available at the above link.
This story is going to be one to watch as it develops and see what happens. We already know the officer has resigned, but how the city reacts and how other law enforcement agencies respond, as to training, is critical. As a former cop, I cannot see any justification for this shooting, as I do not see any resistance by Oscar Grant, now deceased. The best the officer can hope for is that he did act negligently, thus reducing the amount of intent and thus lowering the possible punishments for his crime.
However, as a Texas attorney rather than one in California, I am not well-versed in what this officer may face as punishment in California. But I want to urge those outraged by this or any similar incidents… please, direct the anger and rage to a positive end… further death and destruction is not the way to resolve this or get justice for Oscar Grant.