Friends of BART Shooting Victim File Civil Rights Lawsuit

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Friends of Oscar Grant III have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in response to their detainment at a BART Police Headquarters, claiming that they were falsely arrested, wrongfully searched and suffered emotional distress.

Then-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle fatally shot an unarmed Grant on New Year's Day when responding to reports of a fight on one of the trains in the Fruitvale BART station.

Grant was taken to a hospital, while his friends were arrested and taken to the BART Police Station.

The friends-Jack Bryson, 21; Nigel Bryson, 19; Michael Greer, 22; Carlos Reyes, 21; and Fernando "June" Anicete, 20-were held, handcuffed, for four to five hours, said John Burris, the civil rights attorney representing them in the case.

Separated into different rooms and forced to sit on the floor, the five did not have access to a phone with which to contact legal counsel and were only allowed bathroom visits after repeated requests, Burris said.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday, seeks retribution from BART, Mehserle and BART police Officers Tony Pirone, Marysol Domenici, Jon Woffinden and Emery Knudtson as well as BART Police Chief Gary Gee and BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger.

BART spokesperson Jim Allison declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The lawsuit states that the five men spent "several hours of being

painfully handcuffed and/or mercilessly interrogated, all while mourning the demise of their childhood friend."

"(They were) suffering because their friend had been shot, and they didn't know his condition," Burris said.

Burris commented on the arrest, saying that what police deemed was a fight was really just pushing and shoving, and that it had calmed down by the time the train stopped. BART police had no cause to stop the group, he said. He is "extremely confident" the case will receive a favorable verdict.

Burris is also representing Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, and his girlfriend, Sophia Mesa, the mother of his daughter, in a $50 million lawsuit filed early this year.


Contact Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato at [email protected]

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