Fruitvale Station

The life behind the film

I realised Oscar could have been me
- Ryan Coogler


Oscar Grant

The Man

Oscar Grant, 22, murdered in cold blood by BART police just two hours into the new year, was the loving father of a 4-year-old daughter, a fact he told the police just as he was shot. He worked as a butcher at Farmer Joe’s Marketplace and lived in Hayward, California.

The Incident

Oscar Grant III was fatally shot by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California, United States, in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009.

Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was lying face down and handcuffed. Officer Mehserle stood and, according to his attorney, said: "Get back, I'm gonna Tase him." Then Mehserle drew his pistol and shot Grant once in the back. During his court testimony, Mehserle said that Grant then exclaimed, "You shot me!" Grant was unarmed; he was pronounced dead the next morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

The Aftermath

The events were captured on multiple digital video and cell phone cameras. The footage was disseminated to media outlets and to various websites, where it was watched millions of times. The following days saw both peaceful and violent protests. The shooting has been variously labeled an involuntary manslaughter and a summary execution.

On July 8, 2010, the jury returned its verdict: Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter; he was sentenced to two years minus time served and released in 2011.