Anthony Pirone is a former BART Police Officer who was the first person that responded to the Fruitvale Station platform before unarmed passenger Oscar Grant was shot to death by former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle.
The entire incident was caught on amateur video by spectators who were on-board a crowded train stopped at the station.
Pirone was among the officers who were summoned to the East Oakland station by the train operator who reported to BART Central Control that there was a fight between two groups on-board her train.
Pirone, and his former partner, Marysol Domenici, began pulling the involved parties off the train and corralling them against a station platform.
During pre-trial hearings, Pirone testified that Grant “had brought the situation onto himself.” He publicly criticized the dead man for not complying with law enforcement orders.
But Pirone’s actions have come under the microscope too.
In one amateur video obtained by local television station KTVU, Pirone is seen striking Grant with his fist or forearm — an act reported on by the TV news station and heavily criticized by community members who saw the move as unnecessary, especially before Grant would be shot and killed by another BART officer.
Pirone’s attorney, Bill Rappaport, defended his client saying that Grant had attempted to knee the officer in the groin. Rappaport said that Pirone was solely trying to defend himself by striking Grant using a defensive move.
John Burris, the attorney retained by the Grant estate, claimed that the video evidence did not back up those claims. He called Pirone one of the primary aggressors who heightened tensions between police and Grant by using racial epithets that ultimately led to the shooting incident.
Pirone has been with the transit police force for 5 years. Before he joined BART Police, he was a police officer for Lawrence Livermore Lab, and a U.S. Marine.
On Mar. 25, 2010, his partner Domenici was fired by BART Police for her performance during the New Year’s Day incident. An independent report completed by law firm Meyers Nave recommended that he be terminated from the force.
Information compiled from Beat research and news services