FACT CHECK: Was Kamala Harris The Alameda County District Attorney When Oscar Grant Was Killed?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris was the Alameda County district attorney when Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black man, was shot and killed in Oakland, California.

Verdict: False

The district attorney of Alameda County at the time was Tom Orloff, not Harris. The officer that shot Grant was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Fact Check:

Referenced in the image is “Fruitvale Station,” a 2013 film that features actor Michael B. Jordan as Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old black man who was fatally shot in the back by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer on an Alameda County train platform on New Year’s Day in 2009. Grant and other passengers had been taken off the train after reports of fighting, according to The Associated Press.

The image falsely alleges that Harris, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, was the district attorney overseeing Grant’s case, seemingly in an attempt to criticize her record on criminal justice. (RELATED: Kamala Harris Says She Never Jailed Anybody For Truancy)

At the time, the district attorney for Alameda County was Orloff, not Harris, according to NPR. His office charged Johannes Mehserle, the BART officer that shot Grant, with murder, but Mehserle was ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter, The Associated Press reported.

According to California’s Department of Justice website, Harris served as district attorney for San Francisco County from 2004 until 2010, meaning Grant’s case was outside her jurisdiction. She became the attorney general of California in 2011, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

While Harris did spend time working in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, it was more than a decade before Grant was killed. She worked in the office from 1990 until 1998.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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