$3 Million: What Oscar Grant's Life Is Worth According to BART

The AP reported Wednesday that the five young men who were with Oscar Grant the night he was fatally shot at an Oakland train station by a police officer have reached a settlement with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

Michael Greer, Fernando Anicete Jr., Nigel Bryson, Jack Bryson Jr., and Carlos Reyes will split $175,000. The amount was approved by the BART board earlier this month, and breaks down to $35,000 per person.

"This closes a very traumatic and tragic chapter for these young men," said their attorney John Burris. "Unfortunately, they will never get over witnessing their friend's death."

In 2009, on New Year's Day, Oscar Grant—then only 22 years old—and his friends were stopped by police on the Fruitvale station platform in Oakland. Grant was fatally shot by BART officer Johannes Mehserle, who is no longer with the city agency. The shooting caught national attention after a video of Mehserle gunning down Grant surfaced online, and protests surged across the country as many demanded "Justice for Oscar Grant."

Coupled with the $2.8 million Grant's mother and daughter were awarded in 2011—Burris previously filed a wrongful death suit against BART on behalf of the family—this brings the value of Oscar Grant III's life to: $2,975,000.

It's an ugly, unfair number, a cowardly redress for family and friends left forever wondering the type of man Grant would have grown into, and one we'll ever associate with the worth of his life. Author Jesmyn Ward's words come to mind:

But it wasn't until I was older that I understood that the undercurrent of violence I'd felt was actually more than a deep, cold current — that it in fact exerted a strong undertow in the present. That it could take my great-great-grandfather, but also take young men like Oscar Grant III, shot to death by a transit officer in Oakland in 2009, like Trayvon Martin, like my only brother, killed by a hit-and-run drunken driver who was charged with leaving the scene of an accident but never with the crime of my brother's death. That it could assert they were less in life and deny them justice after death as well. That living in a country where one group of people owned another group of people for some 250 years yielded a culture where one life was worth less than another. Again and again. Then and now.

[Image via Flickr]