Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breaking: Johannes Mehserle Guilty Involuntary Manslaughter

Update 4:08 Johannes Mehserle has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

News reports are breaking that a verdict has been reached in the trial of BART officer Johannes Mehserle the first officer to be charged with murder for an on duty shooting in the state of California for the January 1st 2009 killing of Oscar Grant.

Link to bay area local coverage of the event

They anticipate the verdict to be read at 4 pm PST.

You shot me I got a four year old daughter were Oscar Grant's last words read about and see his death here.

For a rundown on how the trial progressed you can see this link

Yesterday the Daily Kos decided by plurality of 41% that Officer Mehserle would be acquitted of all charges. As Oakland braces for the impact of the decision I’ll be live blogging the story and reactions as they become available. Yesterday I ended my diary on the trial of Oscar Grant with a call for non violence should this officer not receive the verdict many think is just, and I repeat that call. Please let us not have to go to sleep this night with the pain of losing to death injury or even arrest any more of our brothers or sisters in reaction. Nothing that can be done today that will bring Oscar back, and however the jury speaks it will have spoken.

Justice for Oscar Grant.

Update: 3:45 PST.

There will be a community gathering for the people of Oakland at 6:00 pm at 14th and Broadway.

We are in a unique position to organize folks to resist police brutality, to take the lessons we have learned in the past eighteen months and join with others around the state and the country to move forward with our fight. No matter what happens as a result of the trial, we know that police brutality and racial profiling are facts of life, particularly in poor communities.

On the day of the verdict, we want to create a safe space where our youth won't be left vulnerable or exposed to the risk of arrest because of the actions of others. We respect everyone's right to protest or not; what we do matters.

Link to the organizers Oakland for Justice

Update II: 3:48 PST There were some questions from comments about what exactly Officer Mehserle is facing.

Judge Robert Perry ruled on June 30 that jurors would not be able to consider convicting Mehserle of first-degree murder. If they find Mehserle guilty, they will have to decide between lesser offenses of second-degree murder, manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 15 years to life. A gun enhancement could add 25 years, making it 40 years to life.

Voluntary manslaughter carries a sentence of 3 to 11 years; involuntary manslaughter 2 to 4 years. As for the minimum, if Mehserle is convicted of involuntary manslaughter, he could be sentenced to probation.

Link to bay area local coverage of the event


This is the least serious of the charges that Mehserle faced and could even lead to probation. Let that be a lesson to the boys in blue. Should you decide to just kill a prone man all you need to do is look shocked after it, oh and make sure you cry in the witness stand.

Update 4:26 Guilty also of gun enhancement far more serious which can add additional time. The legal analyst seems to believe it will not be applied stringently. Here is a definition of what Officer Mehserle was convicted of.

Most unintentional killings are not murder but involuntary manslaughter. The absence of the element of intent is the key distinguishing factor between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In most states involuntary manslaughter results from an improper use of reasonable care or skill while performing a legal act, or while committing an act that is unlawful but not felonious.

Many states do not define involuntary manslaughter, or define it vaguely in common-law terms. Some jurisdictions describe the amount of Negligence necessary to constitute manslaughter with terms such as criminal negligence, gross negligence, and culpable negligence. The only certainty that can be attached to these terms is that they require more than the ordinary negligence standard in a civil case. With this approach the state does not have to prove that the defendant was aware of the risk.

Free Dictionary definition of involuntary manslaughter

Reporting from the local ABC link says Mehserle is stoic, and the Grant family dispondent. One juror cried, and none of the jurors are being allowed to speak to the media.

Update 4:45 PDT

A little flash local reaction.

OAKLAND, Calif.—A crowd of people gathered near Oakland's city hall let out a chorus of moans and profanity when they heard the verdict in Johannes Mehserle case.

Many in the loose group of about 100 people believe Thursday's verdict of involuntary manslaughter was too light for the former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man.

A number of people appeared stunned after the announcement from a Los Angeles courtroom, where the racially charged trial was moved because of too much pretrial publicity in Alameda County. Mehserle is white, and the victim Oscar Grant was black.

.Mercury news recounting of an AP report

The family is currently giving a press conference where normal frustration is being expressed, however if there is one overriding theme in at least the interview of Oscr Grant's uncle is that they are people of peace and under no circumstances should any provocation cause any violence. I love my people. In the face of the most horrible provocation we call for peace. The attorney for the family is making a big case that the verdict of guilt is a victory and to be sure to see that the officer gets a maximum sentence, and should he not it would be saying much to the African American community.

Update 5:00 PST

Hat tip to Hamptonroadsprogressive

Mehserle will do less time for shooting & killing Oscar Grant than Plaxico Burress is doing for shooting himself in the leg

Via John Cole

Update 5:25 PST

For those who didn't have the opportunity to see the death of Oscar Grant

Update: 5:36 PST

The ABC local link has a camera on 14th and Broadway and it's not starting off well. A fairly large crowd of people has just attacked what looked like a police unmarked cruiser with a bit of car shaking and rock throwing. This was an area that was designated as a protest area, and apparently any real visible police presence is not going to be appreciated.

More on this story: A reporter just stated that as the police car was backing out it may have hit a lady and clipped her. Her condition is unknown. That would have explained how the crowd got angry with the occupants of that car so quickly. Also reported is that among the crowd are "Peace Ambassadors" that are wearing orange vests and are an initiative of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. Good idea Mayor and also a good speech after the verdict.

Update: 7:40 PST

The sun is about to set on the west coast and the demonstration on 14th and Broadway is turning into a beautiful thing so far. People of all races creeds and colors are speaking and venting grief in a very positive way, and despite what felt at the beginning to be an unseemly desire by the local media outlets' reporters for some disturbance none is occuring.

I'll update one more time around 10:00 PST, but this has been an emotional day for the diarist. I was a young father like Oscar Grant, oh so very much like him. That's what touched me the moment I heard about his story, and led me to write my first diary here on it. My daughter got married about a month ago in a ceremony that supplied at least 15 of the snap shots I want to see before I die. Oscar won't get that chance and neither will his daughter, but both she and her entire family should know that there are many people who are expressing solidarity and trying to share their strength. We are an evolving nation and to all those who join me in the above sentiment I say Namaste.

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