CA: BART Settles Suit Filed by Oscar Grant's Friends

May 21--BART has agreed to pay $175,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by five men who were detained with Oscar Grant on the Fruitvale Station platform in Oakland when he was fatally shot by a transit police officer, officials said Tuesday.

The men -- brothers Nigel and Jack Bryson, Michael Greer, Carlos Reyes and Fernando "June" Anicete -- said they were detained for no reason after the video-recorded shooting.

Their suit said they endured "several hours of being painfully handcuffed and/or mercilessly interrogated, all while mourning the demise of their childhood friend."

Grant, 22, was fatally shot in the back by then-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle early Jan. 1, 2009, while unarmed and lying face-down. Mehserle, who testified at trial that he had shot Grant accidentally while intending to subdue him with a Taser, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Mehserle was among a group of officers who went to the station in response to reports of a fight on a train that, according to witnesses, included Grant. Greer and Anicete were thrown to the ground during the police encounter -- with Anicete tackled by an officer who mistakenly believed he had thrown a cell phone.

John Burris, the men's attorney, said his clients had not been involved in the initial fight.

"This brings to an end a very traumatic and tragic event for these young men who witnessed their best friend being killed and who were subsequently arrested and taken to jail without just cause," Burris said.

Burris previously secured total settlements of $2.8 million from BART on behalf of Grant's mother and daughter. A lawsuit filed by Grant's father is still pending.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the settlement "closes the case for a considerably smaller amount compared to what would have been a long and costly trial if allowed to move forward. BART is pleased to close this portion of the case, allowing the district to move forward with our continued focus to reform and make meaningful changes within our Police Department."

An independent auditor reported last year that the 200-member police force had made solid progress in reforms in the wake of the Grant case.

Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: hlee@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @henryklee

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