OAKLAND (KCBS) — The former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer convicted last summer in the fatal shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant will be released from jail on Monday, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Johannes Mehserle, 29, has been confined in a Los Angeles County jail since he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last July for the 2009 New Year’s Day shooting at the Fruitvale BART Station.
Mehserle and other BART officers responded to reports of a fight on a train. He testified at trial that he meant to use his stun gun instead of his handgun on the 22-year-old Grant, from Hayward.
Mehserle will have served 11 months of a two year sentence.
Corrections officials on Thursday informed Grant’s family of Mehserle’s impending parole under the conditions of Proposition 9, requiring that crime victims’ families be notified of an inmate’s release.
Mehserle has been trying to line up a job and a safe place to live with his wife and child, said Michael Rains, his attorney.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
“I think that will happen in short order. He certainly wants to be employed to earn income for his family,” Rains said.
Mehserle’s relatives said they were frustrated that the Department of Corrections has not given them a specific time when Mehserle will be freed.
Luis Patino, a spokesman for the corrections department, said it’s the department’s policy to withhold specific release information for inmates in order to protect “the safety of the public, staff members and inmates.”
Mehserle still faces several civil lawsuits filed by Grant’s family and friends.
The Grant family and supporters said they had planned several rallies and protests in Los Angeles and Oakland over the weekend ahead of Mehserle’s release.
One highly publicized demonstration was announced for the Fruitvale BART station at 3 p.m. Sunday, with a march following to the corner of 14th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland.
Tensions ran high in the days following the shooting and last summer’s guilty verdict on a lesser-charge than murder, sparking riots and vandalism in downtown Oakland.
“People are hurting, and that’s understandable,” said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts. “As before, we’re asking people to do their first amendment right with care.”
Batts said the OPD was prepared should things get out of hand, but he was not expecting any major problems over the weekend or on Monday.
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