Mehserle Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter

LOS ANGELES (KCBS) A Los Angeles jury on Thursday afternoon found former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter with enhancement of a gun, which will carry a sentence of between five and 14 years in state prison.

Mehserle was on trial for his role in the shooting death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day 2009.

A sentencing hearing has been set for August 6.

The trial was moved from Alameda County to Los Angeles because of racial tension and extensive media coverage in Oakland.

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Thursday’s verdict followed a three-week trial in which prosecutors played videos by bystanders, and witnesses recounted hearing the frightening gunshot that killed Grant.

The 28-year-old Mehserle testified that he struggled with Grant and saw him digging in his pocket as officers responded to reports of a fight at the train station.

Fearing Grant may have a weapon, Mehserle said he decided to shock Grant with his Taser, but instead pulled his .40-caliber handgun and shot and killed him.

The jury was given a choice between second-degree murder and lesser charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

Thursday marked the first full day of deliberations since the jury was handed the case last Friday and they came to their decision shortly after 2 p.m.

Grant Family Reacts to Verdict

After the verdict was read, Oscar Grant’s family reacted with both anger and disappointment.

His mother, Wanda Johnson was shocked by the decision.[pullquote quote=”My son was murdered, he was murdered, he was murdered.” credit=”Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant”]

“My son was murdered, he was murdered, he was murdered,” she said. “And the law has not held the officer accountable the way that he should be held accountable.”

She also said that “this battle is not over.”

Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson said the family does not blame the jury for the verdict, but rather the system.

“We as a family have been slapped in the face by a system that has denied us true justice,” Johnson said.

He also expressed surprise at how quickly the jury delivered the verdict.

John Burris, the attorney for Grant’s family, also expressed his disappointment and said the family was hoping for Mehserle to be found guilty of second-degree murder.

He said the verdict essentially implies that the fatal shooting was a “negligent act.”

The U.S. Justice Department issued a statement Thursday evening saying its civil rights division, the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI “have an open investigation into the fatal shooting and, at the conclusion of the state prosecution, will conduct an independent review of the facts and circumstances to determine whether the evidence warrants federal prosecution.”

Oakland Officials Disappointed by Verdict

Meanwhile, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley expressed her disappointment and frustration as well with the involuntary manslaughter verdict.

“This was not the verdict we sought, but we respect the process of the jury system,” she said.

O’Malley said although it wasn’t the outcome they were looking for, the jury’s finding means that the panel believed Mehserle “was acting with criminal negligence and acting recklessly and intentionally using his gun.”

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums agreed with the opinion of Grant’s family and said he will support a federal civil rights prosecution.

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“The journey to justice does not necessarily have to end here,” said Dellums. “You do have the federal government, you do have the attorney general, you do have the civil rights division. So, the journey to justice does not have to end here.”

Now that the trial is over, both Dellums and O’Malley said they hope that there will be a citywide dialogue that will lead to better relations between citizens and law enforcement.

  • Diane Paz

    Notify me

    • kcbsweb

      text ALERT to 45227

      • reginald jones

        please email me with the Los Angeles trial verdict.

      • Mark G

        The alerts would have been far more useful if they had been issued when the 2-hour notice was given that the verdict was going to be read. That would have at least allowed me to get out of harm’s way. Now I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

      • sean windell

        Mark c’mon over here bro. I got your back. We gonna get through this- with love.

  • isdaann

    heaven help us

  • maaryiah


    • sean windell

      Now we rap, likesay. And we watch Michael Franti for our next move.

  • ozzysdad

    If he is guilty then he should be punished,only he knows what his true intent was.I can only hope that the jury did not feel pressured by all the media and protesters,And that when it is all said and done that they, (the jurors ) really believe that justice has been served.Hopefully Oakland will be spared the violence that we all know is coming, no matter what the verdict is someone will be mad and take it out on innocent businesses and citizens.

    • vic

      what do you think his true intent was after gone thru hundred of hours of training to became an officer? If he wanted to kill someone for the new year, he was better off to do it after his shift with his own gun!

  • cb

    First of all the jury has not had this case for all that long. I can’t see how a verdict has been reached. My money is on an hung jury, or not guilty.

  • Marlene Christie

    notify me by email

    • kcbsweb

      sorry but we’re not doing email alerts – just text. Text ALERT to 45227 to sign up.

  • reginald jones

    He will be found not guilty, and or guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter.

    • kcbsweb

      Involuntary Manslaughter.

  • Jack Ward

    I feel sad for the families on both sides. Hopefully the angry mobs in Oakland will not prevail tonight.

  • NLG

    Seriously WHY does this article have to start with BLACK and WHITE?! This is what’s wrong… made it into a black and white thing.

    • sean windell

      Because it’s too hard to read color printing on the screen, ma’am. What’s so wrong about that? Generally things are written in black and white and the color is saved for the pictures. Or the highlighted parts. Sometimes. Keep your head together, we’re all gonna get through this. What I wanna know is- has anybody heard anything from Michael Franti yet????

  • Ammar

    involuntary manslaughter

  • fww

    further evdince of the devaluation of african america lives. I am sure that somewhere in middle america a group of klansmen are celebrating around a fire with a gun in one hand and a jar of shinre in the other. one small step forward for white supremist, one giant step backwards for equality…

  • Marie

    Oh God, my City will be burning now… this will not satisfy the thugs that vandalize, nor anyone, really. I am very disappointed, as I am sure the family is, and many others. But, at least it is a Guilty verdict, and not an Acquittal. Pray he gets the book thrown at him and he is sentenced to the full term of 4 years, no time off for “good behavior”. I was a cop once, and I spent 6 days in jail for a simple marijuana offense, possession of a single joint. So, if I had to do that, the maximum, for a crime that is typically a “citation-only” offense, he should do the max, 4 years, for his crime. God save Oakland! RIP Oscar Grant III.

    • sean windell

      You were a cop and you couldn’t fix a simple possession of cannabis beef? You must’ve been like the most hated cop in Smallsville, huh? Or, as is more likely the case, you’re lying and just polluting the public discourse with this reflexive dishonesty of yours. Come clean Marie- what would Michael Franti do about this????

  • Ann SB

    You write, “A jury has convicted a WHITE former transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed BLACK man on an Oakland train platform”. Why do you include their color (race)? This was not a crime provoked by race, it was the result of an arrest gone wrong. You are instigating people to view this as a “racial” assault when it was not and adding to the violent riots that will result.

  • sean windell

    This sh*t makes me wanna rap. Like “Can’t we all just get along? Sort of like we’re doing now? Yo?”

    • sean windell

      Aiight when I said the word with the asterix I guess I coulda used a more senstive choice of word like “this boola-boola makes me wanna rap”, but I tell you what, if my name was Michael Franti, wouldn’t NOBODY be “awaiting moderation” over my comments, yo. Like, when’m I gonna git MINE, dig??

  • Alex

    Oh sure, THIS won’t fan any flames: “A jury has convicted a white former transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man … .” They you go on to write in the 3rd graf that was “one of the most racially polarizing cases.” How could THAT possibly be, with such objective reporting (yep, sarcasm). C’mon KCBS/AP, show some responsibility.

  • Rob B

    Boy, I’m glad I don’t live in Oakland…feel sorry for my brother, who does! I don’t think the jury served up justice, and I’m sorry for Oscar’s family and friends.

  • modeo

    Mehserle is not guilty! He did not do anything wrong.

    • Peter

      Except shoot un unarmed, handcuffed man in the back

    • tomas

      Think about what your saying next time It could Be YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rap Porter

    I’ve heard conflicting reports about what the range of sentence options is. Some reports say that since Mehserle was found guilty with special circumstances, the judge will be required to give him at least 5 years of jail time, up to 14. Before the verdict, Oscar Grant’s uncle said if that were the case, 14 years in jail would be sufficient justice. Other reports say he could get probation. Both of those statements came from so-called legal experts — law professors in both cases. KCBS, please find and report the correct sentencing guidelines for this verdict.

  • burnaz

    What an injustice. He is guilty of a more severe conviction. He got away with murder. Why??? Had to be an LA jury. Again they got it wrong!!! (Rodney King).

  • tomas

    Another Legal Execution!!!!!!!!!

    • Thomas Thaddeus Hamill

      This is a horror story. This kind of Nazi needs to be sent to a labor camp rather than be excused like this. My name is Tomas as well. My wife and I are in the process of moving from the East Bay to Arizona…I’ve been here in Phoenix for 6 months and I was troubled by AZ Senate Bill 1070…but now I see that CA has its civil rights problems as well. So what we need to do is confront this evil as we encounter it.


  • CC

    What a contrast in compare to the multiple violence in Bayview this year.

  • cp

    Mehserle did all of us (taxpayers) a favor and neutralized the threat to society! Now we don’t have to pay for the thug’s housing, 3 meals a day, and medical. Justice is served!!!

    • isdaann

      what a f**d up world we have today, it all stems from the white man having slaves. how do we fix the past, i agree racism continues today and not only to the blacks. looting doesnt fix anything. do you see the japaneese people rioting from any injustice, they still feel the pains of Heroshima and Nagasaki. Just keep quiet and sell them defective Toyota’s and Lexus’s and walk quietly with your millions

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