Shooting By Oakland Officer Sparks Anger - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Shooting By Oakland Officer Sparks Anger

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Mayor Ron Dellums urged residents to remain calm after protests turned violent in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a transit police officer.

What had started as a peaceful demonstration Wednesday over the Jan. 1 shooting of Oscar Grant escalated into trouble. At least three cars were set on fire, many other automobiles were damaged, and windows were broken on some downtown stores.

Police in riot gear threw tear gas to try to break up the demonstration. At least 14 people were arrested before the unrest ebbed overnight.

Grant, 22, was killed on a Bay Area Rapid Transit station platform after officers went there amid reports about groups of men fighting on a train. He was one of a small group of men taken off the train, and officers had made him lie face down at the time he was killed.

The shooting and events leading up to it were captured on amateur videos that have been broadcast on television.

Officer Johannes Mehserle resigned from the transit agency shortly before he was supposed to be interviewed by investigators Wednesday. Mehserle's attorney did not respond to calls for comment.

Grant's family has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART and want prosecutors to file criminal charges against Mehserle.

"There were racial slurs directed at the young men," family attorney John Burris said Thursday. "But I have no evidence that this particular officer (Mehserle) directed racial slurs towards Oscar Grant."

Police have not classified the confrontation as a hate crime.

Some experts who viewed the video clips speculated that Mehserle fired his gun because he believed Grant had a deadly weapon, while others think the officer had mistakenly his handgun for a stun gun.

"If he was under stress he would not be able to distinguish between a Taser and his firearm," said Bruce Siddle, founder of PPCT Management Systems, an Illinois company that trains law-enforcement officers in use-of-force.

Dellums went to the protest scene Wednesday night to urge for calm. He and several council members then led a group toward City Hall and further addressed them.

"Even with our anger and our pain, let's still address each other with a degree of civility and calmness and not make this tragedy an excuse to engage in violence," said Dellums, who is black. "I don't want anybody hurt, I don't want anybody killed."

Dellums had directed the city's police department to conduct a third investigation into Grant's killing and to treat it as a homicide.

During the protest, some people threw bottles, a window of a fast-food restaurant and other downtown stores were smashed. Police in riot gear threw tear gas to try to break it up.

"The crowd started to become more agitated, more hostile, started throwing stuff at the police," Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said. "We gave a dispersal order four to five times over a 20-minute period, then we had our officers go in and start making arrests."

Police didn't immediate respond to a request for an update on the number of arrests.

Organizers of the protest say they have another rally set for later Thursday during a BART board meeting.

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