Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ex BART Cop Johannes Mehserle To Stand Trial For Murder Of Oscar Grant

A Very Good Sign that there will be Justice For Oscar Grant...
and that Johannes Mehserle, who shot and killed the unarmed Oscar, will be punished for his callous crime and subsequent cowardice.

After listening to seven days of witness testimony during former BART officer, Johannes Mehserle's, preliminary hearing in Oakland, Judge C. Don Clay concluded that, contrary to many of the witness statements made, Mehserle hadn't confused his stun gun and his service pistol when he shot Oscar Grant. "There's no doubt in my mind," Judge Clay declared, "that Mr. Mehserle intended to shoot Oscar Grant with a gun and not a Taser."

He then ordered Johannes Mehserle to stand trial for murder in the shooting death of the young father of one this past New Year's Eve.

I'd had my doubts, until now, that we'd reach this point.

Former BART Transit Officer, Johannes Mehserle, shot Oscar Grant in the back - as he lay face down and in handcuffs - at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California early New Year's Day - fatally wounding him.

Thankfully, the events leading up to the shooting, the shooting itself and the events immediately after the shooting - as well as the behavior and actions of all of those involved - all happened in clear view of numerous witnesses... and it was also recorded from different angles by several bystanders on the scene using their cell-phones.

The days that followed the shooting death of Oscar Grant by Officer Mehserle were utterly maddening...

The familiar faces of Official BART Spokespeople...
The ones who have always made immediate and repeated appearances on local news when anything goes wrong or badly that involves BART... were uncharacteristically absent.

The PR-savvy BART spokespeople; BART Transit Police spokespeople and Oakland Police Department spokespeople said... Absolutely Nothing. Not One Single Press Conference.
Only a deafening silence.

Simple common sense evaded those in positions of leadership in local government. No one at BART; none of the BART Transit Police officials; nor the Oakland Police Department brought Officer Mehserle in to make a formal report of the shooting or to make an official statement to any investigators.

(This is ridiculous. An unarmed, prone and handcuffed young man is shot to death and because the shooter is a BART cop... he goes about living his life like nothing happened? Being a BART cop isn't the same as being a Foreign Diplomat. No diplomatic immunity. He should have been detained & questioned immediately.)

Two Weeks after shooting Oscar Grant to death, Johannes Mehserle resigned from the BART Transit Police Department. Mehserle's calculated resignation meant that now - since he was no longer employed by BART - he could not be forced to talk to BART police internal affairs investigators. The news of his resignation outraged not only the good people of the City of Oakland, but countless people in communities throughout the Bay Area and the nation.

It might or might not come as a surprise to you that at no point did Mr. Mehserle ever volunteer to meet with investigators, either.

It was disheartening to think this would be another officer-involved shooting of an unarmed civilian that wasn't going to result in a trial for the killer-cop and that there might be no Justice for Oscar Grant and his family.

I understand why many people began to suspect a cover-up.

And, I understand their anger and outrage at the injustice and inaction.

The complete absence of leadership from anyone in charge of the various departments and the complete lack of an immediate investigation into Oscar Grant's murder and immediate questioning of Johannes Mehserle is inexcusable.

That said... the acts of vandalism against and the pointless destruction of personal property, cars and locally-owned businesses in the community that were carried out (not by "anarchists" - the term many uneducated TV news reporters commonly use to refer to vandals and idiots) by simple criminals who infiltrated the peaceful rallies for Justice For Oscar which were organized... are also inexcusable.
(TV News People: Emma Goldman was an Anarchist... Look her up.)

I watched several videos of the shooting. In one video, Oscar Grant can be seen initially looking relaxed and even laughing with his friends after they had been detained by the BART Police. Immediately afterward, Oscar was ordered to lie - face down - on the floor. He also appeared to be handcuffed with his hands behind his back.

An over-reaction by the handgun and Tazer-carrying BART Officers to - alleged - verbal jabs made by the young men to the officers for being transit cops.

Officer Mehserle can be seen looming above his back. Mehserle's mentor and friend, Officer Pirone can be seen in the foreground, at Oscar's head. (It was Pirone who detained Grant and decided to arrest him for allegedly obstructing police.) One of Pirone's knees is pinning Oscar down by his neck. One of Oscar's fellow detainee friends is sitting with his back against the wall where he had sat with Oscar was only moments before. His legs are straight out in front of him - inches away from and almost touching Oscar's. He appears worried and is looking directly at Mehserle's face and talking to him... animatedly. He appears to be pleading with the officer. Both of the friend's arms are extended in front of him, palms out - as when signaling for someone to "Stop" - and is waving them in an arc - from left to right - repeatedly. Mehserle suddenly rises up and with his right hand, draws his gun and fires it, shooting Oscar in the back.
(I empathize with the friend who witnessed Oscar's violent and unjustified death - at the hands of a police officer - from inches away. I know very well, from personal experience, what it feels like to witness, point-blank, something terribly violent done to someone right in front of you... and to then immediately go through the harrowing, utterly helpless and doomed feelings that you could be next.)

The gunshot seems to have caught Pirone off-guard and he gets to his feet. In a few moments, he reaches down and grabs Oscar roughly by the back of the neck/hair/collar... and then jerks Oscar's head up and down like a rag-doll. (Did he think Oscar was unhurt or feigning injury?)

In testimony Pirone gave during the preliminary hearing, he told the judge of his actions during Oscar Grant's last moments. Apparently, Pirone's got quite an imagination. He made himself sound utterly heroic.

But (surprise! surprise!), contrary to his own testimony, the videos clearly show that not a single one of Officer Pirone's actions at that time in any way supports Pirone's claims of "... holding Oscar's hand" in his own; of telling Oscar to "... squeeze my (Pirone's) hand"; and of encouraging Oscar to "... stay with me'." (Unbelievably, BART officer witness testimony even dredged up the laughable, "I saw him going for a gun." claim... Laughable and a disgusting lie because Oscar was prone - face down - with his hands cuffed behind him.)

Seeing is Believing. There's no doubt about what happened.

It's a fact that the all of the officers involved and the defense team have had access to the videos (Hell... Anyone can see them... just look on YouTube.).

So, it's irrational and stupid for the officers who testified as witnesses to consciously choose to make up lies and give false testimony that is contradictory to the video evidence of the shooting.

Unless, perhaps, they are looking ahead and hoping to make an appeal based upon Incompetent Legal Representation. (Don't bother... It won't work.)

You may read the San Francisco Chronicle article on the judge's ruling HERE.

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