BART has fired a second police officer, Tony Pirone, who was present when Oscar Grant III was shot and killed in Oakland early on New Year’s Day 2009, interim Police Chief Daschel Butler said today.
“I have announced to my staff that Officer Pirone is no longer employed by the district,” Butler said. “Mr. Pirone’s last day of employment was today.”
Grant was shot in the back by former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shortly after 2 a.m. on the platform of the Fruitvale station.
The shooting happened as many New Year’s Eve revelers were returning home from a night in San Francisco, and police had been called to the station in response to a report of a fight on a train.
Pirone and Officer Marysol Domenici were the first officers to arrive at the station.
Butler said he could not discuss the reasons for Pirone’s termination.
Earlier this month, on April 8, a group of protesters gathered at the Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco to demand that Pirone be fired.
Mehserle resigned a week after the shooting and is now charged with murder for Grant’s death. The trial has been moved to Los Angeles County.
John Burris, an Oakland civil rights attorney who filed a $50 million wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against BART on March 2, 2009, on behalf of Grant’s family against called Pirone’s firing “terrific” and said, “It’s about time.”
The lawsuit named BART, Mehserle, Pirone, Domenici and other officers.
Burris said Pirone “was the major instigator” in the New Year’s Day incident.
“But for (Pirone’s) conduct, Oscar Grant would not be dead,” Burris said.
Burris said Pirone made “racial taunts” toward Grant and others and exaggerated certain details when he testified at Mehserle’s preliminary hearing last year.
Burris said Grant’s family “is quite pleased” that Pirone has been dismissed.
Pirone’s attorney, William Rapoport, couldn’t be reached for comment today.