Johannes Mehserle to be Released from Jail Monday
Johannes Mehserle, the former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant, an unarmed black passenger lying on the ground with his hands behind his back, will be released from jail on Monday.
Mehserle, who sparked widespread outrage and massive protests in Oakland, California after being found guilty of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, had been sentenced to two years behind bars for the killing. That was on November 5 of last year. With time served and time off for good behavior, Mehserle will have served just 7 months and 3 days– 215 days– since his sentencing for killing Grant.
Grant, father of a four-year-old girl, was 22 years old at the time of his death.
He had been riding the BART early New Year’s Day 2009 when a fight broke out on one of the trains. BART police detained Grant and others on a platform at the Fruitvale station in Oakland. While restraining Grant, who police claim was resisting arrest (see for yourself in the shocking video of the shooting below), Mehserle pulled out his gun and shot him in the back.
BART police then tried to confiscate all the cell phones and cameras of witnesses who’d recorded the killing. But fortunately, passenger Karina Vargas was able to escape with video of the incident because her train rolled away from the platform just as officers attempted to seize it.
Mehserle claimed he intended to stun Grant with his taser; prosecutors argued that the shooting amounted to an execution-style murder. A Los Angeles jury agreed with the former. Now Mehserle will soon walk free while Grant’s family continues to mourn the loss of another young black man killed by trigger-happy police.
Grant’s family has been notified of Mehserle’s impending release. “Today, I received a call from the District Attorney’s Office informing me that the actual date that they just got from the California Department of Corrections for his release will be June 13th, somewhere between 12 a.m. and possibly 8:30 in the morning,” Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson told KGO-7 in San Francisco. “I’m definitely going to be down there in L.A. I’ll be down there on Saturday, because he might be released on Saturday. I’ll be there Sunday because it could happen on Sunday. And I’ll definitely be at the courthouse on Monday.”
There are multiple protests planned to mark Mehserle’s release. One is scheduled to take place outside a Los Angeles courthouse on Monday. In Oakland, the Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant, the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition and others are planning protests at the Fruitvale BART station at 3pm Sunday and in downtown Oakland at 14th Street and Broadway at 5:30pm Sunday.
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