John Burris is the prominent Oakland civil rights attorney who was retained by the family of BART Police shooting victim Oscar Grant days after he was killed on the platform of the Fruitvale Station on Jan. 1, 2009.
On Jan. 5, Burris filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against the transit agency, saying that former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Grant without provocation or justifiable cause.
Burris, speaking at a press conference that weekend, called the videotaped shooting “the most unconscionable shooting” that he has ever seen.
The attorney has been very vocal in discussing the case through appearances on television and across local media. A gag order issued by judges in the case barring attorneys involved in the criminal trial against Mehserle from providing details to the press does not apply to Burris.
Burris has established a legal career spanning close to 30 years representing clients who have been alleged victims of police misconduct. In 2005, he represented men who accused a rogue contingent of Oakland Police officers nicknamed “the Riders” of planting evidence on suspects and engaging in illicit police practices.
The city of Oakland negotiated a record $10.5 million payout to Burris and his clients in the incident.
Burris was also part of the legal team representing Rodney King, the man who was beaten by Los Angeles Police officers and sued the city in 1992. That incident was also caught on camera by a witness.
Burris is married and resides in Oakland.
Information compiled from Beat research and news services.