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Transit Officer Arrested For Murder After Killing Black Rider

A police shooting of a black train rider on Bay Area public transportation has caused an outrage and fiery protests in the community, and today Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who fired the shot, has been arrested for murder.

On New Year's Eve, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot by Mehserle while lying face down in a BART station. While on his way back from celebrating in San Francisco, the young and unarmed African American was pulled off a train, along with others, so train police could investigate a fight. In shocking video filmed by passengers, Officer Mehserle tried to put handcuffs on Grant, before he suddenly pulled his gun from his holster and fired one shot into Grant's back.

Mehserle was arrested today in Nevada. He said he left the Bay Area after receiving death threats. While more details will surely emerge, do you think the criminal justice system, and murder charges, are the proper way to address the death of Oscar Grant?


Join The Conversation
robinradernation robinradernation 8 years
Here is a thought. I think and feel by the video, the shooting was an accident.The officer looked as suprised as everyone else. It was not like he jumped up yelled at the guy and then charged his weapon and shot the guy. It was accidental, and the officer will have to answer for it. As for the riots, 10% of the people there had a good reason to be there. The other 90% probably had no idea what was really going on and just wanted to be destructive. You see the key point everyone is missing here is this: Why was that young man being detained? Why was he on the ground in the first place? And i get the whole "police were investigating a call to a fight " comment. But really why was he being placed in handcuffs at the time? What lead to that? The whole incident is unfortunate, and its a terrible thing to have happen to both families. But you can see from the videos that the officer did not mean forr the young man to get shot.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Just FYI here is further information reagrding poor police tactics in the Bay Area:
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Regardless of if he mistakenly pulled his gun and not his taser there was no reason for him to pull his taser there were already three other officers with there tasers pointed at him . Secondly his arm was fully exstended before he shot i.e. he could have saw it wasn't a taser since taser have bright yellow on them. not to mention the weight of a gun and a taser are diffrent. And yes the unlawful protesting is not right, but there where many more protest after that one night including last nights that was peaceful and caused no more than traffic diversions. BART police may want to think about wearing there taser like other local Police departments do which is in the front/back not in a side holster
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
My stepdad is a cop, and there have been instances where an officer mistakenly grabbed his gun instead of taser. I think the rioting was savage and unnessasary, there is NEVER a time for that kind of immaturity and anarchy.
cally8980 cally8980 8 years
just kidding didn't see that you guys already realized that
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
"Jessie, I think the protests went on before the charges were announced, but I'm not sure." The protest that got out of had was before he was in custody and it was more of the fact that people felt there was no "action" being performed, and I will say it again the "riots" are being blown out of proportion. Finally, my mom, aunt and a few friends work for the Oakland Police Department and I passed the exam/physical for the Alameda Country Sheriff, a Taser and HAndgun feel nothing alike...secondly 3 other police officers had their tasers pulled on him at the time of the shooting there was no need for a 4th. One shot from a taser could potentially kill someone imagine if he was tasered more than once.
cally8980 cally8980 8 years
I made my boyfriend watch the video (he is a police officer) and he thinks that Mehserle thought he had a taser in his hand when he shot the victim. Tasers also have a trigger, and he probably instinctively went for his gun even though he really meant to go for his taser. You can tell he looks really surprised after he shoots him. ???
ladyr ladyr 8 years
The cop had NO reason even to tase Oscar, let alone shoot him. None of the officers should have been pointing their tasers at anyone. Nobody was threatening them or trying to run away. Thank goodness that bullet did not ricochet around the crowded station and injure or kill even more innocent ppl. Didn't the police expect some rowdy young ppl to be heading home on BART after partying it up on NYE? Ridiculous! Oscar, and all the other young men who had been detained were completely cooperative according to every video I have seen and all the eye witnesses who've been interviewed on tv (of which there have been many interviewed here in the Bay). Some witnesses have even said that Oscar was begging officers not to tase him and saying "I'm cooperating, I'm cooperating" when he was shot. WTF?! From what I have heard, none of them were armed with any weapons which makes it even more unbelievable. And to have it happen on NYE is even worse. So sad. I'm glad this officer has FINALLY been arrested. It took waaaaay too long for that to happen.
janneth janneth 8 years
We will never know the truth. What is truth?
Jillness Jillness 8 years
"I think police officers are far too quick to use their tasers" I agree. People can die from tasers in rare situations, and they should not be treated lightly. Hypno, you make many good points, including this one: "My honest opinion of the community's response is complete disappointment made all the more worse in the shadow of a certain birthday we're about to celebrate, Martin would not be pleased." Very sad situation all around.
Myst Myst 8 years
I'm not going to jump into the whole race thing. But any cop who is stupid enough not to know the difference between his gun and a taser gun as well would willing try to use it on someone who's laying on the ground doing exactly what he was told do, deserves to be stripped of his badge and have criminal charges against him. He's been a cop long enough not to do something so negligent.
wren1 wren1 8 years
I'm so happy he was arrested on a murder charge, that's exactly what he did. Terrible :(
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
My honest opinion of the community's response is complete disappointment made all the more worse in the shadow of a certain birthday we're about to celebrate, Martin would not be pleased. Yes, brutality by abuse of authority in this country is a problem, but it is a problem that will not be settled if we become our own worst enemy.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
There should be a completely different mode of operation with a taser than with a handgun. They should put it on their ankle, or use it with their left hand, or keep the both safeties on. But even if there isn't, it's totally inexcusable to confuse a lethal weapon with a less lethal weapon.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
See these kind of comments are what we should be focusing on, why did he mistake a gun for a taser ?(if that's the case) Why is this area a trouble makers paradise? Why did the officer do it? Much more productive that blaming it on race.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 8 years
Well, the taser confusion certainly offers some explanation. I agree with Mich that the officer failed in his responsibility. Particularly since he wasn't in any immediate danger; he can't claim that in the heat of the moment he lost his facilities.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
Perhaps if an officer is carrying both, he should keep them in two separate locations to prevent confusion. Or maybe carry one that doesn't look like a gun.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Frank, some of them are shaped just like guns. Do a google image search (that's what I just did). But if you carry a gun (or any other weapon) it's your responsibility to use it wisely. Clearly this officer couldn't do that, and I think the 2nd degree murder charge is completely appropriate.
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 8 years
How do mistake a gun for a taser. Aren't they different weight and shape. How unfortunate for little Oscar, i hope his child gets a healthy amount of money and the family uses it wisely.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
Thanks for the info hypno. I agree about the video, they were kind of like, "what the heck just happened?" I, however, think that the police did not use excessive force until that moment. And really, things must have been crazy having all those people yelling at you while you are trying to do your job. I hate even having someone look over my shoulder. Still, I think this man should be prosecuted, especially since he quit versus having to answer any questions. But for the record he wasn't trying to escape the prosecution. The police knew where he was and why he went. And I cannot say I blame him. If he was getting death threats, (which the police should also investigate and prosecutes those who gave them) I would have left the immediate area as well.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
I don't think he meant to shoot him. How crazy would it be to shoot someone in handcuffs in cold blood in the back in front of a crowd? I'm pretty sure he thought it was his taser. You can see his double take after the shot, and he looks pretty surprised. Either way, it's inexcusable. And definitely at least a blatant disregard for human life and 2nd degree murder. And I agree with kas that there wasn't even an excuse to taser the guy. There were plenty of police there to subdue him, and he was already restrained. As far as race goes, I think it's strange to just assume it had something to do with race. And I don't know why people are excusing the destruction of private property.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
"I think police officers are far too quick to use their tasers. It's a weapon that should be used as a last resort, not a tool to make your job easier. But I guess that's another issue..." I agree Mich. I've often thought that police use the taser as a clutch too often. "Maybe he didn't think "I'm gonna kill this black guy!" but if he is subconsciously expecting more trouble from a black person, it still may have influenced his actions." I think you are on to something, TS. I think that is more likely than him just shooting him solely because he hates black guys. It is more likely that it was a bias. Unfortunately, whether it was racially motivated or not, we may never know why he did what he did.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I've reviewed this video probably a dozen times since it happened and I don't know about any one else but as soon as the shot is fire the two cops look at each other like they're just as shocked that it went off as the spectators are horrified. IMO I think it was an accident that looked like it was intentional because it happened right after he drew his gun. I'm not going to waste my time speculating too much as the details will come out during the trial but that's just what it seems like to me. I've personally stood right where this young man was shot probably a hundred times. The Fruitvale dist. in Oakland is the first area I lived in here in the Bay Area. There has always been a heavy police presence in the area and that Bart station for some reason is a magnet for trouble makers.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Actually, after looking at the video a few times, I do think it's possible he thought he was using his taser. But like Kast said, that sort of mistake is inexcusable.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I could see that TS
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