OAKLAND — Many questions remained unanswered Friday about the officer-involved shooting New Year's Day at the Fruitvale BART station that left one man dead.
Family and friends of 22-year-old Oscar Grant of San Leandro — the man shot around 2 a.m. Thursday — met with prominent Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris on Friday afternoon.
Burris, who has not been retained as the family's lawyer at this point, said he expects the shooting to be part of some sort of legal action — possibly even criminal charges.
"If the witness statements are accurate, that Oscar Grant was shot while lying unarmed and on his stomach, shot by a police officer standing over him, that raises the possibility of criminal conduct," Burris said. "You shouldn't shoot an unarmed person who is not posing a threat."
BART spokesman Jim Allison did not offer much new information Friday about the shooting, except to confirm Grant was shot once. Allison did not say where on his body Grant was shot.
He did not release the name of the officer involved in the shooting and would only say that the officer had been with BART two years. He would not say if the officer had previously worked at another police department.
The officer is being represented by a Sacramento law firm. A call to that office was not returned.
Allison also reconfirmed that surveillance cameras at the station do not record. He said station cameras "historically" have
BART police did seize some cell phones from people on the platform who said they had used the phones' cameras to record what happened. None of those images have been released to the media, and Allison said he could not talk about evidence collected at the scene.
BART officers arrived at the Fruitvale station about 2 a.m. Thursday in response to reports of fighting between two groups of men onboard a train. BART officials will only say the officer's gun "discharged."
It is unclear whether Grant was involved in the fight and whether he was one of the men put in plastic "flexi cuffs."
Allison said Friday that according to BART's preliminary investigation, Grant was not restrained with the cuffs when he was shot, which is disputed by people who were with Grant, a former student at Mount Eden High School in Hayward. Allison also could not say whether the officer carried a stun gun or Taser, as some BART officers do.
BART police and the Alameda County district attorney's office are investigating the shooting.
Burris said it is his understanding that Grant was not handcuffed when he was shot, but that handcuffs were put on him afterward, possibly because officers feared he might get violent, and that the cuffs later were removed by other police officers. Burris said it was not unusual to cuff someone after he has been shot if officers believe the injured party might get violent.
Burris, who has met with several witnesses, said witnesses consistently have claimed Grant was shot while on his stomach. Burris was told that the officer had his gun drawn when Grant was shot.
"I've heard comments that the gun 'discharged,'" Burris said. "That suggests it was not fired. I find that hard to accept — these guns have strong pulls on (the trigger). If they go off without the officer firing it, that is a defective gun."
Allison did say Friday that BART police officers are trained not to place their index fingers on their weapons until they feel deadly force will be necessary.
BART police ask anyone with information about the incident to call 877-679-7000, ext. 7040.