'Unknown sources' helped post ex-BART cop's $3 million bail
Stephen C. Webster
Published: Saturday February 7, 2009

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The killer of 22-year-old Oscar Grant is out of jail.

During a crowded Jan. 30 hearing, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson set Mehserle's bail at $3 million. Exactly one week later, Mehserle has posted that amount through the help of a bail bond company and "unknown sources."

"'We don’t know who paid it,' said JD Nelson, spokesman with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said Friday," in a report by the San Francisco Examiner. "'We only know that it was issued through a bondsman.'"

"Typically, defendants using bail bonds companies must pay 10 percent of their bail in addition to having collateral worth the same as the bail," noted Mercury News.

Mehserle's freedom comes seven days after it was announced that an outside agency would take over the shooting investigation, displacing BART Police Chief Gary Gee after he circulated a memo describing how BART employees might go about sending money and material comforts to Mehserle.

"Mehserle's release came the same day as some of those arrested in protests were arraigned in Oakland," reports the San Francisco Chronicle. "As he was driving from the jail, several dozen protesters were gathering at Frank Ogawa Plaza for a march down Broadway with a heavy police escort."

An early January protest triggered by Grant's slaying turned violent, resulting in over 100 arrests, injuries and vandalism.

Mehserle, who had been in police custody since Jan. 13, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Oscar Grant. Court documents filed by his attorney indicate the officer's defense will claim the killing unintentional: That Mehserle intended to draw and fire his Taser at Grant, not his firearm.

Grant's killing was was captured on camera by numerous civilian bystanders. In the videos, Grant is clearly pinned by two officers and completely immobile. Then, without any apparent provocation, Mehserle draws his weapon and fires a single round into Grant's lower back, the bullet ricocheting off the concrete and into the victim's lung. Grant died in a hospital several hours later.

"John Burris, the attorney for Grant’s family, said he and Grant’s family hope there is no social unrest as a consequence of the former officer being released on bail," notes the Examiner.

"'I have spoken with the family about this, and they are disappointed about his release,' he said. 'But they respect the constitution ... that was [Mehserle’s] call.'"

A prior version of this story said the sources helped "pay" the bail, as opposed to help "post" it.