Charges will not be filed against Anthony Pirone, a former transit officer involved in the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III at a Bay Area train station, months after an investigation into the 2009 killing was reopened, an official said Monday.
The Alameda County district attorney, Nancy O’Malley, said in a newly released report that Mr. Pirone could be found guilty of murder only if he personally killed Mr. Grant or if he aided and abetted the actual killer. Her office concluded that he did neither, calling another officer Mr. Grant’s “sole and actual killer.”
“Although Pirone’s conduct was aggressive, utterly unprofessional and disgraceful, it did not rise to the mental state required for murder,” Ms. O’Malley said in a video statement on Monday.
Responding to a fight on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train, Johannes Mehserle, a white transit officer, shot Mr. Grant on New Year’s Day 2009 while Mr. Grant, a 22-year-old Black man, was lying facedown, unarmed, on a train platform at the Fruitvale Station. The shooting was filmed on cellphone cameras and rapidly spread across social media, leading to mass protests in Oakland, Calif., and more than a decade of calls for justice. The killing was the foundation of the 2013 movie “Fruitvale Station,” in which Michael B. Jordan depicted Mr. Grant in a retelling of his last 24 hours.
Mr. Mehserle claimed that the killing was an accident because he mistook his pistol for his stun gun, which he said he meant to use. In 2010, Mr. Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months in prison.
“There is no evidence that Pirone personally caused Mr. Grant’s death,” Ms. O’Malley wrote in the report, but said that Mr. Pirone’s “overly aggressive conduct contributed to the chaotic nature” of events that transpired that day.
Mr. Pirone, who is white, was seen on videos pulling Mr. Grant from the train, pinning him to the ground with a knee to his neck and using a racial slur. A long-sealed report on the killing, released in 2019, laid much of the responsibility on Mr. Pirone, and said he punched Mr. Grant without justification, lied to investigators and “started a cascade of events that ultimately led to the shooting.”
In the aftermath of the killing, Mr. Pirone was fired.
His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The investigation into the killing was reopened last fall at the request of Mr. Grant’s family, raising their hopes that prosecutors would file charges against Mr. Pirone. Ms. O’Malley said at the time that her office had “listened closely” to the family’s requests and that she had assigned a team to “evaluate the evidence and the law, including the applicable law at the time and the statute of limitations and make a determination.”
Mr. Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, told reporters on Monday that her “heart hurts” to hear the district attorney’s announcement after 12 years of “crying out for justice,” according to The East Bay Times.
“My son laid on the cold concrete with that Officer Pirone’s knee on his neck,” she said. “My son’s head was smashed against the wall and he was kicked and he was pushed. Pirone still walks around free today.”
Charles Bonner, a lawyer for Mr. Grant’s family, said they would seek recourse through other avenues.