B.A.R.T officer gets two years, Grant still dead
On New Years Day 2009, former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer, Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant III. Grant was detained by Mehserle, and 4 other B.A.R.T. officers at the Fruitvale train station, after allegedly being involved in an earlier fight. As Grant (black) lay face down, "resisting" arrest, Mehserle (white) took out his pistol and fired one round, point-blank into Grant's back. Mehserle claims the shooting was accidental. At trial, defense lawyers contended that Mehserle was confused at the time of the shooting and that he had merely intended to fire a non-lethal stun-gun shot into Grant's back, rather than the .40 caliber round that killed him. Mehserle was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
On Friday, Nov. 5, Mehserle was sentenced to 2 years in prison. Given the 292 days credit, for time served, he could be out in as little as 6 to 7 months.
Following the sentencing, Oakland erupted into chaos. Outraged that the system had yet again favored the police and failed to uphold justice, enraged citizens took to the city in force to protest. The demonstration quickly deteriorated, from sign waving and chanting, to window breaking and looting. Nearly 80 people were arrested.
While I sympathize with the victim, family and friends, I must mention that I most definitely do not endorse resisting arrest. When two officers carrying handguns are holding you down, do not resist. Period. This entire mess could have been avoided, and nobody needed to die. However, since it did happen, someone needs to be held accountable, and two-years is just not adequate.
Judge Robert J. Perry qualified his decision, stating, "I well understand that my decision today will not be well-received by many people, I'm sorry for that. But all I can say is I did my best."
Not good enough. A man was killed out of ignorance, regardless of Mehserle's intentions, accident or not. The public is right to be outraged. If this crime were committed by anyone but a cop they would likely be looking at the maximum sentence, if not life in prison. No excuses: murder is murder.
The current system of police favoring disgusts me. I don't care if Mehserle once enforced the law, he broke the law and therefore became subject to the law. A 2-year sentence only shows that he is also above the law, and no one should be above the law.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: At the time of publication, Mehserle's defense attorneys are seeking his release on bail, pending an appeal of the conviction.