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Ex-transit cop cries as he recalls fatal shooting

Tragic Slaying by Bay Area Police Remembered 5 Years Later

By Paul Elias

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A former Northern California transit officer cried on the witness stand Friday while describing how he shot and killed an unarmed man on a train station platform more than five years ago.

Johannes Mehserle testified in federal court in San Francisco that he meant to use his Taser rather than his gun to subdue an already handcuffed Oscar Grant on New Year's Day in 2009.

Mehserle was testifying in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Grant's father against Mehserle, the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency and other defendants.

The shooting occurred as authorities were responding to a chaotic scene on the Fruitvale station platform in Oakland. It has sparked racial tension because Mehserle is white and the 22-year-old Grant was black. The incident was depicted in director Ryan Coogler's feature film "Fruitvale Station."

Mehserle denied Friday that race or animus had anything to do with the shooting. He said he wasn't angry while trying to arrest Grant and is still confused about why he pulled his gun instead of his Taser.

"I'm still trying to process everything," Mehserle said. "How did this happen?"

Mehserle cried when he recalled seeing a bullet hole in Grant's back and realizing he had shot the suspect.

"I wasn't trying to shoot him," Mehserle said.

Mehserle quit the BART police department a week after the shooting. He was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served about half of his two-year sentence in a Los Angeles County jail.

The father, Oscar Grant Jr., is seeking unspecified damages. He is currently serving a life sentence in state prison after being convicted of a 1985 killing. Two California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation guards escort him to court each day.

BART settled a separate lawsuit filed by Grant's mother and daughter for $2. 8 million. Another civil case filed by friends of Grant who were present on the train platform was settled for $175,000.

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liemc June 14 2014 at 1:20 AM

As an ex cop it's pretty hard to draw your gun if your intending to draw your taxer. Regulation normally require that the gun & Taser be on opposite sides of your belt. Only a moron or someone in panic mode could make this mistake.

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10 replies
Franco June 14 2014 at 12:46 AM

This accident could have been done by a white or a black cop. It was not intentional murder. Why make it a people versus cop thing, white versus black?

Flag Reply +22 rate up
17 replies
carpediami June 14 2014 at 3:56 AM

The sad thing about all of this is that "GREED" and NOT "JUSTICE" was the motive for the lawsuit. I wonder how the families and friends feel about spending the money they got from the death of the person. Or, what have they done with that money...... I agree , it should not be back/white/race issue. Interesting, the father is in jail for a 1985 killing. How much money did he paid to hte other families?????????

Flag Reply +18 rate up
4 replies
dtate38 June 14 2014 at 9:55 AM

This officer was there with other officers and was just doing his job. An accident happened and as a result tragic consequences occurred. Think about it, is someone going to commit a heinous act in front of other officers in a public place? The fact that the individual killed was black and the officer white fed into the victimization industry scenario. The officer appears to have been served up as a sacrifice to the need to satisfy the injustices of the past. I would like to meet the person who could act perfectly in all stressful situations. In 60 years, I have not met that person. Have you?

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7 replies
bigred8690 June 14 2014 at 12:58 AM

So the father of the "victim" is a cold-blooded killer. How do we know the son wasn't one too? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say. The guy should've stopped resisting in the beginning!

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15 replies
davedawgd June 14 2014 at 7:30 AM

ACCIDENT? a person would have to be a complete moron to even consider this was an accident.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
Franco davedawgd June 14 2014 at 3:41 PM

In the mist of confusion and split second decisions to be made, anyone can take the actions of a complete moron, including you. Maybe this was the case, and not the case you so rave about.

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Lahela Way June 14 2014 at 3:14 AM

This story left out too many pertinent facts. Why didn't the writer include the fact that a number of bystanders filmed the entire incident on their phones? Why wasn't the fact that Grant was laying face down, handcuffed, and not resisting noted? Why didn't the writer include the fact that Mehserie fled and had to be captured?

Flag Reply +10 rate up
4 replies
cindy June 13 2014 at 11:29 PM

This rat dog should be in jail..just like that asswipe killerman Zimmerman he will get his one day..

Flag Reply +9 rate up
11 replies
rogerl1961 June 14 2014 at 10:12 AM

Everyone who thinks they could not make a mistake while in the middle of something like this, please go become a police officer and save us all.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
dtate38 rogerl1961 June 14 2014 at 10:19 AM

Well said. Hindsight is 20/20. I think we have a lot of people on her who have never found them in a situation that this officer found himself in. I don't think this officer woke up that day and decided he was going to shoot a black person in the back in front of other officers in a public place. If that was his mindset, which I have not heard any evidence to indicate that, he should have been declared insane and committed to a mental hospital. Yes, I believe most of the people commenting here don't have a clue what it's like to be a police officer in today's world. They would not do the job, but they don't hesitate to criticize how it is done.

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2 replies
HEY BOB dtate38 June 14 2014 at 10:30 AM

BLAH..BLAH.........BLAH...everbodys a cop now.......

Flag 0 rate up
musomesa dtate38 June 14 2014 at 12:28 PM

Nonsense. Your average police officer sees no need to shoot or taze someone who is already subdued. The situation he found himself in was that other officers had subdued the chap and he asked them to move aside and he shot the detained fellow.

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miltrand7 rogerl1961 June 14 2014 at 11:38 AM

No, we don't need any more idiot police officers like tht one.

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1 reply
Franco miltrand7 June 14 2014 at 3:46 PM

Who does? Certantly not me, you and everyone involved here.

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harleybv June 14 2014 at 11:55 AM

Another "hero" cop kills a civilian. That was a very heroic thing to do. A cop is killed ,a city mourns, bagpipes blare, and is declared by all to be the best person in the world with 3 kids and a loving wife..blah blah blah. That same cop shoots and kills an already cuffed suspect ( not convicted of anything). He gets 2 weeks paid leave, a commendation, then a promotion. In this case he got 2 years, but had you or I shot someone in the back, we would be fighting not to be executed,,,what a country

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