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BART Officer Found Guilty

BART Officer Found Guilty

This cellular telephone image provided by the Los Angeles County Superior Court shows an image taken, according to lawyers, by Oscar Grant, of former San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle shortly before Mehserle shot Grant

Associated Press

July 09, 2010

LOS ANGELES — A white former transit officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Thursday in the videotaped shooting death of an unarmed black man on an Oakland train platform, a verdict that touched off violent protests in Oakland that damaged businesses and led to at least 50 arrests.

Prosecutors had wanted Johannes Mehserle convicted of murdering 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot once in the back as he lay face-down.

The jury’s conviction on the lesser charge raised concerns of a repeat of the days of rioting that followed the shooting on New Year’s Day in 2009. The incident is among the most racially polarizing cases in California since four Los Angeles officers were acquitted in 1992 in the beating of Rodney King.

Near Oakland City Hall, a crowd moaned and cursed Thursday when they heard the verdict, decrying what they called a lack of justice.

At least a dozen business were damaged after 9 p.m., including a Foot Locker store that was looted and a jewelry store that was ransacked. Windows were also smashed at several other businesses. Firefighters put out fires in several trash bins and at least one dumpster.

One person suffered a leg injury when some protesters started throwing rocks and bottles, officials said.

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This Jan 14, 2009 file photo shows Johannes Mehserle, right, in the East Fork Justice Court in Minden, Nev. A jury reached a verdict Thursday, July 8, 2010, in Mehserle's trial, a former San Francisco Bay area transit officer accused of murdering an unarm

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said that at least 50 people had been arrested and expected the number to double.

“We deserve better than this,” he said. “This city is not the Wild Wild West. We will allow people to protest and we will allow them to do it peacefully.”

Batts says officers from 15 different agencies responded to help Oakland police.

Before the incidents, Batts had described a mostly peaceful protest, although a small incendiary device had been set off near his department’s downtown station.

The chief’s briefing came as lines of police in riot gear worked to keep the crowd confined to a two-block area in the city’s downtown area.

“There is no need for this. This makes us look like animals. We came here for peace,” said Jonathan Trotter, 34, who watched the Foot Locker looters with disappointment. “This is a justification for the verdict.”

Some streets in Oakland had been deserted after workers went home early in anticipation of possible riots.

The anger is directed at the involuntary manslaughter conviction — the lowest offense Mehserle faced. The charge carries a sentence of two to four years, although the judge could add 10 more years because a gun was used in the killing.


“My son was murdered! He was murdered! He was murdered,” said Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, who earlier stared at jurors when the verdict was read.

Mehserle was taken away in handcuffs. He turned to his family and mouthed, “I love you, guys,” as his parents wept.

One female juror wiped tears with a tissue when the panel was polled on its decision.

The verdict followed a three-week trial in which prosecutors played videos by bystanders, and witnesses recounted hearing the frightening gunshot that killed Grant.

At least five bystanders videotaped the incident

Mehserle, 28, testified that he struggled with Grant and saw him digging in his pocket as officers responded to reports of a fight at a train station. Fearing Grant may have a weapon, Mehserle said he decided to shock Grant with his Taser but pulled his .40-caliber handgun instead.

Grant has become a martyr of sorts in a city where more than a third of residents are black. His omnipresent image on buildings and storefront windows arguably rivals that of slain hometown rapper Tupac Shakur.

The trial was moved from Alameda County to Los Angeles because of racial tension and extensive media coverage in Oakland.

Alameda County District Attorney Nance E. O’Malley said in a statement that while the jury did not agree with the prosecution’s belief that it was murder, the panel also rejected the defense contention that Mehserle had no criminal liability.

“The case is a tragedy in every respect. Oscar Grant should never have been killed at the hands of a sworn officer,” O’Malley said.

The case was a rare instance in which a police officer stood trial for an on-duty killing and that was captured on video from so many different angles.

The jury had a choice between murder and lesser charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The jury found that Mehserle didn’t mean to kill Grant, but that his behavior was still so negligent that it was criminal.

“It’s not real, it’s not real. Where’s the justice? He was killed in cold blood,” 23-year-old Amber Royal of Oakland said as a crowd near City Hall moaned and cursed when they heard the verdict. A dozen people gathered in a semicircle to pray.

Grant family attorney John Burris said they were “extremely disappointed” with the verdict.

“This verdict is not a true representation of what happened to Oscar Grant. This was not an involuntary manslaughter case,” Burris said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement urging Californians to remain calm and not resort to violence. Schwarzenegger said he had informed Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums the state was well prepared to assist in maintaining order.

“As we have come to notice, and we as a family has been slapped in the face by a system that has denied us a right to true justice,” said Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle. “We truly do not blame the jury, but we blame the system.”

Legal experts said the verdict shows the jury sympathized with Mehserle’s version of events.

Prosecutors had a huge hurdle to overcome in convincing a jury that an officer with a spotless record meant to kill, even with video of the killing, said University of California, Berkeley, law school professor Erin Murphy.

“I think it’s a lesson that video can only get us so far,” Murphy said.

Defense attorney Michael Rains contended the shooting was a tragic accident. Mehserle had no motive to shoot Grant, even though he was resisting arrest, the lawyer argued.

Rains also said Mehserle told a colleague before the shooting: “Tony, Tony, Tony, I can’t get his hands. I’m going to Tase him.”

Rains did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Fallout from the shooting was swift in Oakland after the videos were shown on television and the Internet. The shooting and the nearly two weeks it took to arrest Mehserle sent the city into a tailspin of violence as downtown businesses were damaged, cars were set ablaze and clashes erupted between protesters and police.

Grant had recently been released from jail after being sentenced to 16 months for a gun possession charge filed after he ran from police and was subdued by an officer with a stun gun.

The jury included eight women and four men. None listed their race as black. Seven said they were white, three were Latino, and one was Asian-Pacific. One declined to state their race.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    BLAH BLAH BLAH.... How did he reache into his pocket cuffed in the back facing down on the floor...??? Would you PLEASE EXPLAIN THAT TO ME...?

  • Images_max50

    OFFICER_K_CPD

    about 4 years ago

    2296 Comments

    BLAH BLAH BLAH.....if an offender reaches into his pocket while I'm fighting w/ him.....he will be shot dead, end of story and I can promise it will be intentional. If you want to resist and fight the Police, then be prepared to deal w/ consequences of your actions when you place a Police Officer in fear for his life.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    OK...
    I also predicted the scum bags will create a mayhem... Riots and a nightmare for our brothers and sisters out there... I am mean I was sure it would happen, regardless of the outcome. Guilty, Not Guilty, "Partially Guilty" .. Whatever, I said it, so this is no surprise to me.
    The low lifers need no motive, no excuse to commit a crime. Any crime... They were just waiting and preparing for this, no matter what.
    What we can't do, or at least we should not do is to create here any racial bias, bashing and trashing of a whole community, because if we do so... Well.
    Let the brothers and sisters collar any and every piece of trash taking any part on the riot(s). Let the full weight of the law deal with them accordingly.
    Come on now... Does this surprised anyone here..? Really..?

  • Swat_logo_max50

    kbabcock

    about 4 years ago

    258 Comments

    Someone should explain to these people what the meaning of the word "intent" and "knowingly" means as it applies to criminal law. This cop did not intend to kill this guy, he intended to use his TASER and obviously by poor placement or familiarity, drew the wrong one by mistake. I dont see how you can even rise to criminal negligence since what he was trying to do (get control of a prisoner) was not inherently reckless or criminally negligent in nature given the video of the event I have seen. It was a mistake, no doubt about it and the city will be paying for that mistake in the inevitable upcoming civil suit, which they should. I think this is a case where the jurors felt compelled to convict him of something lest they find themselves like LA in 1992. So, they made a compromise verdict by giving him the lowest they could. Frankly, I dont think anything was going to come from the legal system that would come close to the torment this cop has to live with for the rest of his life that he accidentially killed a man. His career is over. What more do they want??

  • Ocp-me_max50

    sigmachimarine

    about 4 years ago

    300 Comments

    So the former BART Officer shot and killed a resisting Gang Banger while attempting to gain control of a small, ARMED, riot? Sounds justified to me.....re-instate the Officer and Pardon without Prejudice!

  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    about 4 years ago

    5524 Comments

    Lets keep focused here people. The actions of the rioters are not indicative of an entire Community and should not be used as a foundation to make slurs or racially insensitive remarks about an entire Community. It should be noted that not all of the protesters took part in the looting and rioting and those that did are the subjects of the negative reaction by rest of the Oakland area residents. The looters and rioters are, without a doubt, amongst the lowest form of scum that we in LE have to deal with. They should be dealt with harshly and punished to the fullest extent allowed by law.

  • Academy_001_max50

    bartlett705

    about 4 years ago

    64 Comments

    RIOTS!!! REALLY??? What are the citizens of Oakland proving? This is a tragic accident nothing more.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    "At least a dozen businesses were damaged, including a looted Foot Locker store and a ransacked jewelry store, police said. Protesters also smashed the windows of a bank, set fires in several trash bins, and detonated a small incendiary device near a police station that caused no damage."

    These people are, plain and simple, HOOD RATS! They looted a Foot Locker store to STEAL the latest footwear. They looted a jewelry store to steal the BLING that they couldn’t afford to buy on their welfare check or food stamp payments. But, look at the bright side, now they are some well dressed and blinged out HOOD RATS.

    There is NO WAY that these people were expressing outrage! They are ghetto trash, and that is all they are. This wasn’t about a verdict, it was about them, and an opportunity to express some FAUX outrage so they could steal from hard working business people.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    There is a place in this world that we keep and secure animals, it is called a zoo...Lets gather them all and put them in thier cages....What a bunch of uncivilized people...

    I hope the Officer gets no jail time and gets probation as well...

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    about 4 years ago

    14618 Comments

    I agree that this former Officer should get the minimum and hopefully probation. There was nothing intentional in this and he was just trying to do his job and screwed up big time. As someone else said, he probably should not have become a LEO but he did. Blame that on the hiring and weeding out process. The fact that the Officer happened to be white and the POS was black has, or should have nothing to do with it at all. The POS was a gang-banger with a long rap sheet and involved in basically inciting a riot as there were three or more people fighting. He then actively resisted arrest and was fighting with Officers when this young and inexperienced Officer grabbed the wrong pistol. I also saw tapes of this incident and there were at least two gang-bangers there with weapons, one being a plainly seen stub-nose pistol. In the totality of this incident it is really this Officer who is the victim.

  • Img_0338_max50

    BklynsFinest347

    about 4 years ago

    2016 Comments

    Let the savages burn down & loot their own neighborhoods. Maybe they'll use their "hope & change" to build it back up. Yeah right.....

    I hope the officer gets probation & no jail time.

  • 7819_712435661328_26723071_40880744_7213452_n_max50

    Mke_AF_Cop

    about 4 years ago

    436 Comments

    Let me get this straight "BART Officer found Guilty" but yet people still Rioted, and Looted ??? am I straight on this...?

  • Flags_1_max50

    Bmac1775

    about 4 years ago

    210 Comments

    So now the POS mother cares about her son being "murdered"? If she had cared while this pos was growing up, none of this shit would have happen because he would not have been getting arrested by Police.

    I hope the officer gets probation, and F8&k Oakland with their riots. Riots and stealing from your OWN PEOPLE in YOUR OWN CITY...pathetic!

    The officer made a bad mistake in a high stress situation. Maybe being a Police wasn’t his best bet, but that certainly doesn’t justify him loosing his freedom for some POS thug who put himself in the position to begin with. Why are we giving two shits about this POS. If you are out here, on the streets causing chaos and problems then all best off. This country is for the good, law abiding people and the police are here to see that they can walk without fear. But thanks to POS's like this we cant. So yea...no tears for that thug! Only tears are seen for the officer.

  • My_kawi_zx6r_jan_2012_-_copy_max50

    leodavism

    about 4 years ago

    30 Comments

    To answer szepp- By employing Mehserle as a police officer the citizens of Oakland asked him to be at the train station and get involved in the incident in which Grant was shot, it's not like he was out looking for trouble. He made a tragic mistake during a stressful incident that he, not only had no fault in creating, but was expected to resond to. His mistake was negligent, unacceptable, and inexcusable, but it was unintentional. His sentence should be the absolute minimum allowed by California law.

    On another note, Mehserle testified that Grant reached into his pocket while actively resisting arrest and that he feared Grant may have had a weapon. I wonder, had he claimed he shot Grant intentionally, would there have been chargesfiled against hiim? Not considering the political issues because there is no way to predict what the liberal freakos might do. I am speaking stricly of statutory matters. Would there have been charges appropriate to that situation? Would there have been statutes providing Mehserle with a justification for his use of force? I ask because I don't know California law. I believe under Missouri law there would have been no charges because there is a statute which would have provided justification for the shooting.

  • 1067_med_max50

    rarebit

    about 4 years ago

    98 Comments

    Why aren't tasers carried low on the thigh or some other place other than the hip? My point is- having two similarly shaped objects (one being deadly) carried in seperate, distinct locations would lessen the chance of confusion.

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