Oakland BART police: another Rodney King case ?

15Jan09

 Johannes Mehserle, former Bart police officer, arraignedFrom today’s San Francisco Chronicle: The King case becomes a cautionary tale for prosecutors now that Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff has filed murder charges against Johannes Mehserle, 27, the former BART police officer who fatally shot an unarmed and prostrate Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland early New Year’s Day.
As in the King case, the defendant is white, the victim black. Once again, onlookers’ videos appear to show a criminal assault, this time fatal. Two local elected officials, Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks and County Supervisor Keith Carson, have referred publicly to the shooting as an execution. The president of the NAACP in California, Alice Huffman, said Mehserle could have been motivated by racial prejudice.
As in King’s case, in which the first trial was held in suburban Ventura County, intense media coverage and public anger might persuade a judge to transfer the Mehserle case to another county.
And, as in King’s case, the guilt of the officer, if he goes to trial, will be determined not by what he did but by a jury’s assessment of why he did it. …
More protests in OaklandThree community centers in Oakland will open for part of the day Saturday for a “Day of Remembrance and Healing” in the wake of the death of Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old Hayward man fatally shot on New Year’s Day by a BART police officer.
“This day is to honor all those who have died or been injured by violence in the streets of Oakland and neighboring communities,” reads a flyer for the events organized by community groups in conjunction with Mayor Ron Dellums’ Task Force on Youth Violence. “We honor these mostly young men and women whether the cause of their death was police brutality, gang violence, domestic dispute or by accident.” Updates and full coverage of Oscar Grant killing.



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