Attorney John Burris confronts BART's attack on Oscar Grant's friends

Photo: IndyBay

BART has breached confidentiality and is lying to criminalize and endanger the lives of Oscar Grant's friends who were on the Fruitvale platform when he was murdered last New Year's Day by a BART police officer. The transit agency wants to undermine a civil rights lawsuit against the agency, according to the family's attorney.

Just one week ago, BART announced a $1.5 million settlement with the mother of Oscar Grant's child, Sophina Mesa. Attorney John Burris -- who is representing the family in various civil lawsuits against BART -- held a press conference alongside Grant's famiy and friends to discuss recent media reports based on confidential information that was leaked by BART.

"We have protective orders in this case. So, some of this stuff that's come out through protective orders is shocking to me," Burris said. "For the information to come out about what's going on in this case, seems to me that it's unethical and its a violation of the rules of conduct and there must be an ulterior purpose for it."

"Is it about truth and justice?" Burris asked. "That has yet to be seen."

Burris compared BART's treatment of Grant's friends to the infamous Supreme Court Dred Scott decision.

"BART's position here suggests that these young men have no rights that BART has to respect," Burris said. He said he would "fight until the end of time" to ensure that their civil rights are respected.

Burris added that BART police officers -- and rumored lovers -- Tony Pirone and Marysol Domenci threatened to used their tasers unconstitutionally, based on the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which said officers could only use tasers when there is an immediate threat (PDF).

"How could it happen? BART had to do it. Why would they do it?

He added that BART's ulterior motive was to label Grant's friends with a "snitch jacket." Grant's friends have been threatened and called snitches due to BART's ethical breach, according to Burris. He said that BART's comments are trying to minimize their "financial obligations" by casting Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson in a negative light.

"The stuff they said about the settlement conference was designed to make them look better than they are," Burris added. Referring to the recent settlement, Burris said, "these comments could put all that in jeopardy."

Burris said he had no reservations about trying the case.

"We have a video tape where a man kills a kid who was on ground with his hands behind his back," Burris said.

When asked who was to blame, Burris blamed BART.

"BART hired the lawyers, I assume the lawyers speak for BART," Burris said.

IndyBay has provided the complete video of the press conference called by Burris.

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