Until now, the courts and the public have placed the responsibility for Oscar Grant's death entirely on the BART police officer who shot the unarmed passenger on an Oakland train platform. But a federal appeals court ruling could shift some of the blame to the officer's supervisor and perhaps the transit system itself.
Like the judge in Mehserle's criminal case, the appeals court last week rejected the former officer's claim that the shooting was legally justified and said it should go to the jury. The court also said a jury should decide whether Pirone had any reasonable basis for detaining Grant and his friends.
Courts usually give officers broad leeway in such heat-of-the-moment decisions, said David Levine, a law professor at UC Hastings in San Francisco.
Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here.