A federal appeals court in San Francisco Tuesday cleared the way for a trial on two civil rights lawsuits filed against former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle and other officers by the father of Oscar Grant III and five of Grant's friends.

Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward resident, was fatally shot by Mehserle at BART's Fruitvale station in Oakland early on New Year's Day in 2009 as Mehserle and other officers responded to reports of a fight on a train. Mehserle, who said he accidentally drew his revolver instead of his Taser stun gun, was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison.

The two lawsuits were filed by Grant's father, Oscar Grant Jr., and five companions who were handcuffed and detained by officers for several hours but never charged with crimes.