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article image150 arrested in Oakland following police shooting death verdict

By Stephanie Dearing     Nov 6, 2010 in Crime
Los Angeles - After Oakland transit police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced to two years for the having shot and killed Oscar Grant, peaceful protests turned violent and at least 150 people were arrested.
The judge hearing the case against Oakland transit police officer Johannes Mehserle said the evidence was "overwhelming" that the death of Oscar Grant was "accidental." Mehserle apologized in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, as did Judge Perry, reported the Los Angeles Times. Before delivering his sentence, Perry said, "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."
The LA Times also reported that the 28 year old Mehserle "apologized tearfully" before sentencing, saying "I want to say how deeply sorry I am. Nothing I could ever say or do could heal the wound I created."
Mehserle had been employed by BART and resignd from after he shot Grant. The two other officers with Mehserle that night were fired this year reported KTVU, specifically for their actions on the night Grant was killed.
Mehserle was sentanced to two years for the shooting death of 22 year old Oscar Grant on New Years Day 2009, which occurred in Oakland's Bart Station. Mehserle maintains he meant to stun Grant with his taser, but instead accidentally drew his handgun and shot Grant, who died of the wound. Riots erupted in Oakland following the death of Grant, and Mehserle was arrested on a charge of murder. In the summer, the charge was reduced by a jury to involuntary manslaughter, which provoked more riots. Grant's family disagreed with the jury's decision, noting not one juror was a person of African American origin reported ABC 7.
Friday, Judge Perry convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter. However, due to the time Mehserle has already served in jail, his remaining time in prison will be about one year, or less. In the meanwhile, the Grant family has filed a civil suit against Oakland's Rapid Transit, BART for $25 million, said LA Late News. There is still a hearing to be held that concerns the gun Mehserle used.
As columnist Tamerlind Drummond wrote Friday, a large portion of the public feels that justice was not served in the case, saying Perry partly blamed Oscar Grant for his own death. ""Many people contributed to the tragedy in this case," Perry said, blaming Grant for fighting on the train and blaming BART for its poor training of Mehserle, whose defense was that he mistook his gun for his Taser. "I made the ruling because I believe it is in justice to do so."
Actually, this is not what justice looks like. This is what happens when justice falls down on the job. Two years is not sufficient punishment for the criminal taking of a life -- especially if you are a police officer sworn to uphold the law. Perry's cavalier remarks from the bench chastising concerned Oakland residents who wrote to the court requesting Mehserle get the maximum sentence add further insult to injury."
Protests that took place Friday after the hearing were intended to be a peaceful time taken to honour Oscar Grant. However, the situation turned ugly as protesters expressed their outrage over the verdict. Oakland North reported protesters were to stay in a plaza, but they took to the streets, blocked traffic and threw rocks and bottles at the police, as well as vandalizing property. One police officer was hit by a car, but escaped with minor injuries. Of the estimated 300 to 500 protesters who took to the streets, police managed to cordon off about 152, who were all arrested.
Blogger Zennie 62 wrote protesters were headed towards the BART station where Grant was shot when they left the plaza Friday night. Zennie said only a few people were breaking windows, but that was the excuse the police needed. Zennie went on to say "... One of the marchers described the police as increasingly aggressive when they found it it difficult to contain 500 people.
When folks arrived at 6th and East 17th the police in riot gear had all sides blocked and declared the area a crime scene. Many of the folks had no idea what that meant and why they were not allowed to leave. Police then announced that everyone except the press would be subjected to arrest. Some marchers were getting conflicting information where they were told they could leave, but when they attempted they were told they could not.
Police were on bull horns telling the crowd ‘This is a crime scene Do Not Resist the Police.” Again no one had any idea why it was a crime scene and what that meant.
Observers from Lawyers Guild were told that a rock was thrown at the police and everyone in the march were going to be arrested as ‘agitators’. This was the story given when I was out there.
Imagine our surprise when we got home and saw the evening news running stories saying that people were snatching guns from holsters and had been unlawfully assembled."
Mercury News Live Blog covering the protest said Oakland "... Chief Anthony Batts said that he feels for the Mehserle and Grant families. He talked about violence against officers and said he was very disappointed in what happened.
"We bent over backwards" to allow for a peaceful protest, but some people chose to march through the city and tear it up, he said, citing rocks and bottles being thrown at officers and fences being ripped down."
Batts went on to tell reporter Kristin Bender that he expected 100 to 150 people would be arrested on Friday night.
Bender said Deputy Chief Eric Breshears told her "... the area where some officers had been attacked or hurt -- on 6th and 7th Avenues between near East 17th Street -- had been declared a crime scene earlier in the evening to clear the media out of the area and make sure the scene wasn't contaminated."
The San Fransisco Chronicle reported Batts had said one person attempted to take an gun from a police officer, but was "swarmed" by police and arrested. The attempt occurred when police were hedging in the protesters, and the Chronicle reports some of the protesters turned violent after they had been penned in by police.
The incident has attracted international attention because Oscar Grant was lying facedown on the ground when he was shot in the back by Mehserle. Just prior to having been shot, he was restrained facedown by two officers.
Grant leaves behind his family, which includes a young daughter.
More about Oscar grant, Johannes mehserle, Police brutality, Shooting death, Bart
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