BART turns over internal affairs probe to independent, third-party law firm
Oakland, CA – BART announced today that it has turned over its internal affairs investigation to the Oakland-based law firm of Meyers Nave.
Meyers Nave is an independent, third party that will investigate the actions of all the officers present during the events leading up to the shooting death of Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009 on the Fruitvale Station platform.
“Meyers Nave has strong ties to this community and extensive experience in conducting internal affairs investigations,” BART Board Member Carole Ward Allen said. Ward Allen chairs the newly formed Board of Directors BART Police Department Review Committee. “All of us on the Committee felt it was essential for the public to have complete confidence in the findings of this internal investigation – and that the best way to guarantee that confidence was to bring someone in from the outside with an impeccable record to conduct the investigation independently.”
Difference Between Internal and Criminal Investigations
There are two investigations taking place; the internal affairs investigation now being handled by Meyers Nave and the ongoing criminal investigation by the BART Police Department, which includes the investigation into the actions of the six officers who were with now-former officer Johannes Mehserle on the platform at the time of the shooting.
“The criminal investigation is examining any and all use of force by the officers that night,” BART Board Member Joel Keller said. Keller is Vice Chair of the BART Police Department Review Committee. “The results of the criminal investigation will be delivered to the District Attorney’s office, which will determine if any of the actions of the six other BART police officers rise to the level of prosecutable conduct,” Keller said. “The internal affairs investigation will primarily focus on the time those officers were on the platform, however, it will also look into the events on the train that preceded the officers’ arrival as well investigate the tactics and actions of the command staff who directed the officers.”
Board Committee’s Next Steps
Now that the Board Committee has turned over the internal affairs investigation, it will also engage experts in law enforcement to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all BART Police policies and procedures. Keller said he anticipates that an expert or experts will be identified in the next couple of weeks. The Committee also plans to host workshops and discussion forums as a way to involve the public while the Committee members:
Review the different approaches to citizen oversight of police
Hear from members of established citizen oversight review boards
Work to identify the best oversight model for BART police
Conduct an in-depth review of the practices and policies of the BART Police Department.
Board Enlists Expertise of Reginald Lyles
Additionally, the Board Committee announced today that it has retained the services of Reginald Lyles to support the Committee in its work. Mr. Lyles is a long-time member of the Oakland faith community, he spent over 20 years with the Berkeley Police Department, and he retired from law enforcement as a Novato police captain in 2003. Mr. Lyles will support the work of the Committee as it seeks significant community input and involvement in the establishment of citizen oversight of BART police and in the comprehensive review of the BART Police Department.
About Meyers Nave
Meyers Nave is known throughout the state for its expertise in a broad range of police work and public law. The Oakland based law firm has a solid reputation built on the highest ethical standards. The firm has a 20 year history of producing independent, objective reports that have led to the discipline and termination of officers in other jurisdictions as well as changes in the policies and procedures of other law enforcement agencies.