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Settlement in 'Fruitvale Station' killing

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
Aidge Patterson of the LA Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant leads a protest rally in Oakland, California.
Aidge Patterson of the LA Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant leads a protest rally in Oakland, California.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A former transit police officer shot Oscar Grant in the back in 2009
  • Five men detained along with him filed a federal civil rights suit
  • BART has settled out of court for a sum much lower than the cost of a court battle
  • Cell phone video of Grant's shooting went viral, sparking public outrage

(CNN) -- A California transit authority has agreed to pay damages to five men who were detained with Oscar Grant, the victim of a high-profile fatal police shooting in 2009.

The Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) settled a federal civil rights lawsuit out of court for a sum of $175,000, spokeswoman Alicia Trost told CNN.

"This settlement closes the case for a considerably smaller amount compared to what would have been a long and costly trial if allowed to move forward," she said.

Grant's killing sparked public furor, when cell phone video went viral showing former transit police officer Johannes Mehserle shooting him in the back, while another officer knelt over him.

Grant was unarmed.

His death became the subject of the award winning movie "Fruitvale Station," named after the BART station, where he was shot.

Mehserle testified at his 2010 trial that he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun. He was sentenced to two years in prison after his involuntary manslaughter conviction but was released after serving 11 months.

Activists felt the former law officer deserved the tougher conviction of second degree murder, and violent protests erupted after Mehserle's sentence was handed down. At least 150 people were arrested by the police, after crowds threw rocks and bottles and tore down fences.

BART has implemented dozens of recommendations made by the Nation Organization of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE) since Grant's killing, Trost said.

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