Officer convicted in Calif. train station killing

This is a discussion on Officer convicted in Calif. train station killing within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; The Associated Press: Officer convicted in Calif. train station killing Officer convicted in Calif. train station killing By GREG RISLING (AP) 4 hours ago ...

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  1. #1
    Ex Member Array WhoWeBePart1's Avatar
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    Post Officer convicted in Calif. train station killing

    The Associated Press: Officer convicted in Calif. train station killing

    Officer convicted in Calif. train station killing
    By GREG RISLING (AP) 4 hours ago

    LOS ANGELES A jury has convicted a white former transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on an Oakland train platform.

    Johannes Mehserle was found guilty on Thursday in the New Year's Day 2009 killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant. Involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence of two to four years.

    At least five bystanders videotaped the incident one of the most racially polarizing cases in California since four Los Angeles officers were acquitted in 1992 in the beating of Rodney King.

    Prosecutors said the 28-year-old Mehserle became angry at Grant for resisting arrest. Mehserle claims he mistakenly drew his gun instead of his Taser.

    The trial was moved to Los Angeles after racial tensions boiled over into violence in Oakland.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

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    He did what he did and now has to pay the piper...2 - 4 years? He'll be out in less than 2.
    I don't think that he intentionally planned a killing, but certainly was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.OMO
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    Oakland may burn tonight

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    I guess if the kid wasn't black, the accident wouldn't have happened. Way to keep the race thing going guys. Because we KNOW that accidents are racially motivated. I realize that the charges against the ex-officer are just and pretty much expected, hence the added "involuntary" part. But it should have been the same charge no matter what color the officer was and no matter what color the resisting teen was. Unless there's a seprate book for these racial accidents that is. The color of each of their shoes impacted the outcome of this event just the same. But, I guess there would be no story if they were both the same color people. Wouldn't have made headlines. And it's not just the way the media writes these things up like this. It's also the community that reacts like accidents can't and don't happen and EVERYTHING that goes on has something to do with race.
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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    It was not an accident...It was negligence, at a minimum.

    Spilling milk is an accident.
    Killing a human being without malice or intent while wrongly holding & using a tool of mortal negation is negligence.

    If his reasoning toward why and how this came to be are taken at face value 100%, then this was a clear case of negligence.

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    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    I am satisfied with the legal process and verdict. There will likely be a civil suit as well.
    "a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility" - Bill Clinton 2010.

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    VIP Member Array mprp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    It was not an accident...It was negligence, at a minimum.

    - Janq
    I guess you could say that the officer accidentally grabbed the wrong weapon and neglected to check which weapon it was before he pulled the trigger.
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    He pulled out his gun and shot the kid dead. That he meant to use his taser is of little consequence. The only redeeming fact is that he made a mistake and did not intentionally kill. He must pay a debt to society. I wonder if he was that stupid or did his trainers and superiors fail him?
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    Distinguished Member Array ErnieNWillis's Avatar
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    Punishment fits the crime. I bet the young man would still be alive if he had learned at an early age to behave himself.

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    Member Array MSteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    It was not an accident...It was negligence, at a minimum.

    Spilling milk is an accident.
    Killing a human being without malice or intent while wrongly holding & using a tool of mortal negation is negligence.

    If his reasoning toward why and how this came to be are taken at face value 100%, then this was a clear case of negligence.

    - Janq
    I agree, based on the articles I've read about this incident, that it was negligence. I also agree with the point that mprp is trying to make that whether you call it accident or negligence, it doesn't appear to be racial. Nothing I've read in any of the articles actually shows where it was racial. Maybe I missed something.

    But, in true media fashion, the article starts with:
    A jury has convicted a white former transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on an Oakland train platform.
    When it could have just as easily been written:
    A jury has convicted a former transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed man on an Oakland train platform.
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    And the riots have started.

    More than 80 arrests made in Oakland, BART resumes service

    6:00 a.m. More than 80 arrested, BART reopens closed station and trains running

    Police said they made 83 arrests throughout the night for violations that included failure to disperse, vandalism and assaulting a police officer.

    Damaged stores included a Foot Locker, jewelry store, banks and a Sears.

    Meanwhile, BART officials said trains were running on time early this morning after stations opened as usual. The 19th Street Station was closed during last night's protests, as were some entrances to the 12th Street Station.


    11:55 p.m. About 75 to 100 protesters remain on the street

    More looting and smashed windows have been reported at stores at 7th and Market and 9th and Market streets and the 24 Hour Fitness on Webster was also vandalized.

    Police remain at 14th and Broadway in a skirmish line and there are police officers roving the city looking for unrest.


    11:45 p.m. BART sends out last update of the night

    The19th Street BART station remains closed. Some entrances at the 12th Street stations are closed but service continues there. This'll be the last update tonight, according to BART on Twitter.


    11 p.m. At least 50 arrested so far

    Police Chief Anthony Batts held a press conference at 10:30 p.m. and said about 50 people have been arrested so far. Most were arrested for refusing to disperse. Thirty nine of those were arrested in the 1700 block of Broadway. Some are from San Francisco and Oakland.

    Batts said he is disappointed in people's actions tonight. "This city is not the wild, wild west," he said. Batts said police have the protesters boxed in and are making arrests as quickly as possible.

    Asked why police stood back for a while tonight as things heated up, he said, "When you have a large crowd in there, you can't just run into one location, one spot. Police didn't want to cause more problems,'' he said.


    10:45 p.m. More businesses hit by violence

    Graffiti on an empty building on the corner of 22nd and Broadway says "Oakland is our amusement park tonight!" A man at 23rd and Valdez was arrested because he had a gun. Two banks have had their windows smashed at 21st and Broadway. At Ozumo, someone smashed a window and there are broken bottles around the restaurant. Oakland Acura at 24th and Harrison had its windows broken. Whole Foods has also been struck; windows broken at the store at Bay and Harrison streets.
    Much, much more here: Live blog: More than 80 arrests made in Oakland, BART resumes service - Inside Bay Area
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  13. #12
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mprp View Post
    I guess you could say that the officer accidentally grabbed the wrong weapon and neglected to check which weapon it was before he pulled the trigger.
    No, one could not say that either.

    First there was no degree of threat/non-compliance to support his thought to escalate himself to the degree to deploy the taser in the first place.
    Right out the gate he was wrong on that one.

    At a different forum yesterday as toward this same subject I'd posted the following as two posts pointing out additional active and purposeful negligence by the LEO.

    Below are direct quotation of my postings...

    ~~~

    Quote Originally Posted by Janq
    The weight/heft, shape, feel, and tactile grip of a duty sidearm is _nothing_ like that of a pistol grip TASER device.
    I have actually first person held and handled one.
    We're talking softball to wiffleball here.

    Soon as hand goes to _holstered_ device/firearm it's pretty immediately obvious which one is whihc even if your experience is limited to never having touched a TASER and having only once or twice touched your sidearm. Which would never be the case because all agencys require multi-hour mandatory qualification toward officers being allowed to carry and use a TASER device, or a sidearm.

    Still though with that said I totally see how involuntary manslaughter is applied here, and it makes sense.
    Although a civilian would be and have been straight up sentenced with either murder in the first degree (with malice & intent) or voluntary manslaughter (taking a life by purposeful negligence).

    - Janq
    Quote Originally Posted by Janq
    Oh, and one other thing...!

    This situation is EXACTLY why with firearms training _doctrine_ is and has been for like 20 years now that the most basic rule of firearms training is, and you guys know this one...

    'Finger off the trigger until ready to shoot!"

    This applys to any device what so ever regardless of projectile type that could possibly harm a living being or damage property.
    Reason for this is because human beings by nature without much in the way of training tend to grip/close their hand(s) when surprised or stressed AND holding something.
    AKA "Finger spasm" as noted by Chri3.

    This is one of the three most basic rules of firearm safety taught everywhere by everyone from Boy Scouts on up.
    And it's taught to cops too as related to activity such as this with 'covering' a person.

    Trigger finger indexed along the frame/body of the weapon (firearm or projectile firing device) until in the immediate ready to fire.

    A properly held and trigger finger as _indexed_ TASER device

    Image sources:
    Michigan teenager dies after police Taser him
    Innocent man tasered | The Sun |News

    Trigger finger not indexed, and thus ready to fire as to injure/wound persons down range

    Image source - Police blast man, 89, with 50,000-volt taser gun | Mail Online

    If this young officer had followed his training (or been better trained) this event could have been prevented/avoided by at least two clear and specific factors.

    - Janq

    P.S. - Note that a TASER device only weighs a few ounces...While a typical loaded combat/duty grade pistol with fully loaded magazine weighs nearly two pounds, at the lightest as chambered in 9MM (!).
    TASER product are lightweight by design as police already wear _pounds_ of gear as they work and the last thing they need is another tool/device adding a pound or more of weight to their body overall.
    Sources:
    The Glock FAQ: glock_faq_glock_model_guide
    TASER X26

    Right now today the TASER model X26 is what many (I'd bet most) agencies and depts. use today.

    "For further comparison purposes, the M26 is approximately the size of a full size Glock 10mm or .45ACP handgun, while the X26 is closer in size to the "baby" Glock Model 26 or 27. The X26 is a little bit bigger than a cell phone (non flip open type). At just over 7 ounces in weight, it's easy to carry comfortably."
    Source - http://www.officer.com/web/online/Operations-and-Tactics/TASER-X26-Electronic-Control-Device/3$32394
    I've watched the incident videos multiple times.

    YouTube - Shooting of Oscar Grant by BART Police Officer - Newest and Clearest Angle
    YouTube - BART Shooting - UPDATED!!! NEW angle of the shooting!!!!

    The officer drew his weapon, the wrong weapon he says, while Grant was detained, cuffed, proned out fully, head held to the ground under his partners knee as his partner was literally at his body in the immediate process of physically by hand checking him for weapons.
    Even if the officer had pulled the right tool had he fired he would have risked tasing his own partner either by direct contact or secondarily by him being in multi-point direct contact with Grant.

    Slice and dice it how ever you want the end result always comes back to same; The officer was negligent which by purposeful action directly resulted in the taking of a human life (homicide).
    The rest is ascertaining whether or not he had malice/intent or not (murder in the first degree) or whether the negligent act of homicide was voluntary (murder in the second degree) or involuntary.

    He's been convicted under the third as involuntary...By way of my best guess poor/minimal training.
    For more on this reference the Use of Force model as by the National Institute of Justice to which the majority of modern police training toward this subject use as a training basis & model.
    The Use-of-Force Continuum | National Institute of Justice

    Again slice and dice it how ever you might, at the end of the day the officer continues to come up as being negligent and by that in the wrong.

    - Janq

    P.S. - If you or I had done exactly same thing as say upon stopping a person on our property or even within our home, guess what charges we'd be looking at...Negligent Homicide aka murder in the second degree or even straight up MURDER (MA).
    Even as police are generally held to a higher standard because of their position and by that training & procedure protocols.
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  14. #13
    Member Array nova83tx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    First there was no degree of threat/non-compliance to support his thought to escalate himself to the degree to deploy the taser in the first place.
    Right out the gate he was wrong on that one.
    Here is an article with the officer's thoughts regarding non-compliance and his reason for escalation :

    California officer conviction touches off protests - USATODAY.com

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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.

    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.
    Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    My guess is that the assisting officer who was kneeing on Grant's back blocked all view from the cameras to observe if Grant was indeed reaching into his pocket. This could be the truth, or could be a convenient afterthought for Mehserle's testimony to justify his actions. I would be curious to see if any of the officers present at the scene also observed Grant reaching into his pocket.

    Either way, still negligent and at minimum involuntary manslaughter.
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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Nova,

    I would buy that reasoning, and honestly I want to do so because I don't want to think/believe that police would just kill a person for no good/valid reason...

    ...IF it weren't for the on video from two different angles fact that the primary officer, not Mehserle, was already clearly hands on with Grant and had him clearly under physical control. Grant was not moving in a furtive manner.
    The persons taking video were over 20' feet away and at odd angles, and yet they could clearly see Grants body position and hands.
    That Mehserle standing there could not see as an excuse is weak, especially considering it his job to make it so that he can see andif that means telling his partner to move himself or to himself move and reposition to better offer review and cover then THAT is what should be done, not to fire on to a person as a just in case...Be it with a TASER or a firearm.

    Even still benefit of a doubt had he not been under control by the primary officer and had he actually been making any move, then why did Mehserle immediately after firing stand there looking _shocked_, as along with the primary officer who then stood up and backed away, at the fact that he shot the man?
    Then there is his statement that he had meant to grasp his TASER not his firearm AND that he thought he had his TASER not firearm in hand.
    None of that makes any sense either, whihc I detailed in my prior post.

    Very much agreed; Negligence and at a minimum involuntary manslaughter.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  16. #15
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    Interestingly, in a 2002 case from Madera, CA, an officer shot and killed a handcuffed man in the back seat of a patrol car, having mistaken her Glock for her Taser.

    She was never charged, and apparently continued as an officer with the department.

    Just goes to show you - different prosecutors under similar circumstances can yield vastly different outcomes.

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