Groups say they’ll protest early release of ex-BART officer Mehserle
Several community groups said Wednesday they would hold protests on the day that former Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Officer Johannes Mehserle is released from a Los Angeles County jail.
Mehserle shot and killed unarmed train passenger Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009 in an infamous incident that was caught by cell phone cameras and ultimately led to his conviction of involuntary manslaughter by a Los Angeles jury.
At a press conference at the site of the shooting, Fruitvale BART Station in East Oakland, representatives from the Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant and several other community groups formed in the wake of Grant’s death said they would organize protest events in Oakland on the day of Mehserle’s release.
The groups at Fruitvale BART station said they were upset by the expected early release of Mehserle, who was convicted of a lesser sentence and received the minimum prison term for Grant’s death.
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“In the State of California, you can get more time for a DUI than he has served for the cold-blooded murder of Oscar Grant,” said Rachel Jackson, a member of the New Years Movement, a protest group. “It is unacceptable and shameful.”
Mehserle was charged with murdering Grant after the shooting. His trial was moved to Los Angeles County over concerns that he would not receive a fair trial in Alameda County because of intense media interest in the case.
In June 2010, a Los Angeles jury convicted him of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 2 years in state prison — the minimum sentence for the crime — but was never transfered out of the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail where he has been held.
With good behavior credits and time-served allowances, Los Angeles Judge Robert Perry is expected to allow Mehserle to be released in mid-June.
A status hearing has been scheduled for June 13 at 8:30 a.m. at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Downtown Los Angeles. Mehserle’s date of release is expected to be discussed at the hearing.
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