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Ex-BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle released from jail

Johannes Mehserle

(6/13) — UPDATE 0720 PDT — LOS ANGELES — Johannes Mehserle, the former Bay Area Rapid Transit Police officer who was caught on video shooting and killing an unarmed train passenger, was released from the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail early Monday morning.

Mehserle left the Downtown Los Angeles facility after serving 11 months behind bars for an involuntary manslaughter conviction for the killing of Hayward resident Oscar Grant.

Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle, told the Beat that he received a phone call at 12:24 a.m. from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation notifying him that Mehserle was no longer in custody.

Inmate information from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website recorded that Mehserle was released at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

A Los Angeles judge ordered that Mehserle be released from jail on Monday, saying that he had served enough time for the charge that a Los Angeles jury convicted him of in June 2010.

Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, plays a phone call from prison officials telling him that Johannes Mehserle has been released outside of the Los Angeles County Men's Jail. (CALIFORNIA BEAT PHOTO)

Including the 25 days between Mehserle’s arrest on January 13, 2009, and his release on bail on February 6, 2009, Mehserle has spent 365 days in jail, according to Judge Robert Perry. Since Mehserle has earned 366 days worth of good conduct credits as of Sunday, the “defendant must be released” on Monday, Perry said.

Mehserle was convicted by a Los Angeles jury in July 2010 of involuntary manslaughter for the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting of BART passenger Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station, but acquitted of murder, the most serious charge he faced. He was sentenced in November to two years in prison — the minimum sentence for his conviction.

The early release angered members of Grant’s family and others, who protested Mehserle’s release at two rallies held at the site of the shooting and in front of Oakland City Hall Sunday evening.

“Mehserle definitely did not serve enough time,” said Dominic Nicholas, an Oakland resident who attended the rallies. “He took a life, he should have served life. If we let things slide they’re just going to keep happening.”

A series of protests organized in response to key events in the high-profile case turned violent after vandals struck numerous Oakland businesses and destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in private property.

The case made national news because of the widely disseminated videos showing Mehserle firing a shot into Grant’s back, killing him. Community members in Oakland said the shooting was racially motivated and drew comparisons between the videotaped Los Angeles Police beating of Rodney King by several white police officers.

Mehserle is white, while Grant was black.

“This is a white police officer who actually murdered a black man,” Johnson told reporters outside of the jail after Mehserle’s release. “He was not held accountable.”

Johnson called Mehserle’s release a “travesty to our criminal justice system,” and complained that the Grant family had repeatedly been given delayed or inaccurate information about Mehserle’s release date.

Mehserle’s defense contended during a historic trial in Los Angeles — where the case was moved because of the intense publicity in Northern California — that the shooting was a mistake. Mehserle had intended to use his Taser gun against Grant, but mistakenly drew his pistol, the defense argued.

Asked by reporters what his future may hold, Mehserle’s attorney Michael Rains said the former peace officer was eager to be reunited with his girlfriend and young son who was born within days of the shooting.

Then, Rains said, Mehserle would “fade into oblivion.”

The Beat News Service contributed reporting from Los Angeles. Contact the Beat at news@californiabeat.org.

9 Comments »

  • EmergeZ319 said:

    My Peoples make me sick…Here we are every week trying to wake them up that they are the people that the Bible speaks of(Israelites!)..But when shit like this happens(Oscar vs Bart Police)… You niggas want to love everybody when the bible condemns it Revelation 7th chapter…

    Oh! by the way and this is for my peoples…That damn mayor got something going against y’all …Here’s a hint…(THE OAKLAND RIDERS WILL BE BACK ON THE STREETS….YOU DUMMIES…..SMFH…SHALAM.)

  • white dude said:

    cops think they can do whatever they want to and get away with it,i guess they can this proves it . to many cops not enough justice , oink if you hate freedom.

  • AJ said:

    Cops don’t go looking to taze random people, excessive force…. Probably, but murder no.

  • detests liberals said:

    @EmergeZ319

    Perhaps you should have spent more time in school instead of running wild on the streets. Then you would be able to put a proper sentence together.

    Now…..

    The police officer did his time..deal with it. How many times have you people shot and killed innocent people and did very little time for it?

    Here is a novel idea for those of you wasting their time running wild on the streets. Stay in school, get good grades. Attend college ( it is free for you) then get a damn job. That would take ya’ll off the streets and make them safer for law abiding citizens. Then perhaps the police would not be so tough with “your people”.

  • dmb said:

    all I read on here is plain ignorance. Did any of you see the video shot from the station? showing that Mehserle pulled his tazer out at first and then put it back in the same location as his gun since that is where his holster for the tazer was. Have any of you been in heated situations where anything can happen, anyone can shoot you, people every where? Have any of you ever held a tazer that closely resembles a gun? All I read on here is uneducated people that more than likely aren’t law abiding citizens and are racists. Mehserle is NOT a racists. If it were a white man or any other nationality, this wouldn’t have made such a fuss. Do me a favor, go out and obtain an education and come back to me after you do and let me know your thoughts. Racists, Mehserle is NOT.. Stop with the racial discrimination. The grants need to stop with discrimination because this is NOT a racial issue. May God Bless.

  • dmb said:

    and white dude.. You can’t just go and film anyone that you want. Cops do not have to give you their names and bag #’s.. Please go out and obtain an education. Maybe then you can come back and give us an educated statement..

  • dmb said:

    All I want to finish with is that the shooting of Oscar Grant was a huge tragedy. It doesn’t matter if it was Oscar or anyone else, a human life was accidentally taken. My thoughts and prayers go out to both families, the Grants and the Mehserle’s. I hope that this does not become another tragedy. Keep God in your hearts and thoughts

  • elaine brown said:

    this is clearly, a murder. ‘heated situations’ or not. he also was beating oscar before he and the other 2 officers held him to the ground..i watched this tape over and over again. If your’re a trained police officer, like he was..(6 years) 2 years at the substation) you know the difference between a taser and a gun. Also, he fired that gun and he knew what he was doin’ it was all an act after that..to cover his tracks. A taser shouldnt be fired anyway if you have 2 other officers holding him down and the suspect is detained, on the freakin ground. it was a murder, end of story. Hopefully, he’ll get what he deserves some years from now. but whatever he gets, they better leave his family out of it.