Now that Mehserle is in custody, I wonder if we will see Oscar Grant’s family receive justice, given the history of BART cops getting away with murder.
The BART police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man on an Oakland train platform and then refused to explain his actions to investigators was arrested Tuesday in Nevada on suspicion of murder, authorities said.
Johannes Mehserle, 27, of Lafayette was taken into custody in Douglas County, Nev., said Deputy Steve Velez of the Douglas County sheriff’s office. The arrest was also confirmed by David Chai, chief of staff to Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.
Mehserle was arrested in the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward who was lying facedown after being pulled off a BART train by police investigating a fight. An Alameda County judge signed an arrest warrant alleging murder, and Mehserle surrendered without incident, authorities said.
The shooting, which was recorded by passengers in videos widely circulated on the Internet and television, prompted public outrage, and some viewers said that the shooting appeared to be an execution.
Appeared to be? Let’s go to the videotape…
Today there will be rallies, meetings, and actions nationwide to protest the kind of police state that results in the execution of an unarmed, handcuffed, subdued man on a public transit platform.
Prior to the announcement of Mehserle’s arrest, Color of Change had issued a call for Attorney General Jerry Brown to take over the case and for the US Department of Justice to launch an independent investigation into the conduct of local authorities. The call included the disturbing history of violence by BART officers.
Oscar Grant is the third man murdered by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the past 17 years. All three victims were Black and none posed a serious threat. In each case, BART and county authorities have failed to hold the officers accountable.
…In the previous cases, BART’s internal investigations concluded that the officers felt threatened by the victims and were justified in pulling the trigger. It’s unbelievable given the circumstances of the killings:
- In 1992, 19-year-old Jerrold Hall was shot in the back by a BART officer as he tried to leave the parking lot of a station. The officer was responding to reports of an armed robbery and said he suspected that Hall and a friend were involved. The officer tried to detain the two, Hall ran and then the officer shot him in the back and killed him. Hall was unarmed, but the officer said he thought Hall was on his way to get a gun and return for a showdown.4
- In 2001, a mentally ill man named Bruce Seward was the next victim of the rogue force. Seward, 42, was naked and had been sleeping on a bench outside the BART station when an officer approached him. Seward did grab the officer’s nightstick at one point, but there were several options for subduing him. Instead, the officer shot and killed him.5
In addition to BART’s internal investigation, Alameda County’s District Attorney is also investigating Oscar Grant’s murder–but the office’s record on investigating police killings is horrible too. In both cases just described, the District Attorney bought BART’s argument that the officers felt threatened. As a result, the cops were cleared of any wrongdoing.
…The problem with Alameda County’s DA goes beyond BART police murders. In the past two years alone, there have been 11 fatal police shootings in Oakland (not including that of Oscar Grant).6 When asked, the officials at the District Attorney’s office could not remember a single case in the last 20 years where an on-duty cop had been charged in a fatal shooting in Alameda County.7 It gives the clear appearance that the District Attorney’s office just doesn’t have the will to prosecute police crimes.