Controversial Release: Johannes Mehserle Freed 11 Months After Shooting & Killing Oscar Grant

Authorities apprehended and accused Johannes Mehserle of homicide for purportedly shooting and slaying Grant on the Oakland BART platform at the Fruitvale station.

Recordings taken by BART riders of the shooting spread widely and sparked numerous disruptive demonstrations after the slaying garnered national attention 

A BART law enforcement officer shot Grant in the back while he was unarmed and lying on the station platform.

Mehserle initially declined to speak with police after the shooting, but eventually, retiring Alameda County DA Tom Orloff accused him of homicide.

Mehserle testified in his defense, stating that he inadvertently used his gun instead of his Taser.

The trial had to be relocated from downtown Oakland due to the high-profile nature of the shooting and frequent protests.

Despite Mehserle’s assertions, the jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Consequently, his maximum sentence was reduced from 25 years to life to just two years.

It also outraged Grant’s relatives, who believe that Mehserle deliberately murdered Grant and that he has not yet faced adequate consequences for the crime.

How did Johannes Mehserle End the Life of Oscar Grant?

In the early hours of January 1, 2009, in Oakland, California, BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and ended the life of a 22-year-old African-American man, Oscar Grant III. 

BART Police detained Grant and many other passengers at the Fruitvale BART Station after they responded to reports of a scuffle aboard a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco. 

B officer Anthony Pirone compelled Grant to lie face down on the platform and kneed him in the head. Mehserle shot him after drawing his gun.

Grant was taken to Oakland’s Highland Hospital but was pronounced deceased there.

Witnesses captured the incident on their smartphones, and the owners’ footage spread widely on social media and news websites.

In the days that followed, there were demonstrations and disturbances.

Grant’s girlfriend Sophina and other passengers on the train intervened to stop the scuffle.

When the train finally pulled into the station, the conductor informed the passengers that police had been called and were on their way. 

Grant and his girlfriend spotted the cops approaching as the train’s occupants disembarked.

The officers began singling out those they suspected of being involved in the scuffle as they neared the train. 

When Pirone saw two black men talking, he marched up to them and tore off one of their jackets.

After throwing three passengers against the wall, Pirone turned to the rest of the train and yelled for them to disembark. 

When it became evident that no one would leave the train, Pirone went inside to search for witnesses to the altercation. When Pirone noticed Grant, he took him away.

Johannes Mehserle indicted for Second-degree murder

Mehserle was indicted for second-degree murder on January 30, 2010, by prosecutors in Alameda County. Mehserle pled not guilty and resigned from his post. On June 10, 2010, the trial got underway. 

Mehserle was judged guilty of involuntary manslaughter on July 8, 2010, and found not guilty of murder or voluntary manslaughter on the same day.

On July 8, 2010, protests against the jury ruling were initially calmly organised. However, as night fell, there were reports of looting, arson, property destruction, and minor disturbances. 

Almost eighty persons were taken into custody in the end. Mehserle received a two-year sentence on November 5, 2010, with credit for time served. 

The Los Angeles County Jail placed him in protective custody in a guarded cell. Mehserle was paroled on June 13, 2011, after 11 months.

Johannes Mehserle lawyer

Grant’s family hired Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris to sue BART for $25 million in wrongful death. In 2011, BART reached a $2.8 million settlement with Grant’s daughter and mother.

In addition, it resolved claims for damages brought by several of Grant’s acquaintances who had been victims of police abuse. 

Grant’s father filed a separate lawsuit, but the jury did not side with him because he was not actively involved in his son’s life.

The murder and protests prepared for Black Lives Matter in 2013. Ryan Coogler’s biographical drama Fruitvale Station (2013) chronicles Grant’s final 24 hours, including his murder and aftermath.

Who was Oscar Grant?

Oscar Julius Grant III was a Hayward, California resident (February 27, 1986–January 1, 2009). After stints at multiple KFC restaurants, he found work as a meat cutter at Farmer Joe’s Marketplace in Oakland’s Dimond District. 

After dropping out of school in the tenth grade, he attended Mount Eden High School in Hayward and San Lorenzo High School until he could graduate with his General Equivalency Diploma.

Debatable Release: Johannes Mehserle Freed 11 Months After Shooting & Killing Oscar Grant

Grant was on parole after serving sixteen months in jail for weapons possession at the time of his death.

On January 7, 2009, Grant’s funeral was held in Hayward at the Palma Ceia Baptist Church.[8] After Grant passed away, his family sued BART for wrongful death. 

The plaintiffs were his mother, sister, daughter, and girlfriend (his daughter’s mother). In 2011, it was resolved.

Who is Johannes Mehserle?

Born in Germany in 1982, Johannes Sebastian Mehserle spent his formative years in the Bay Area—Mehserle completed high school at Napa, California’s New Technology High.

Debatable Release: Johannes Mehserle Freed 11 Months After Shooting & Killing Oscar Grant

In March of 2007, Mehserle became a member of the BART Police Force.

Many witnesses afterward told the media that he had shot Grant for no apparent cause, which led to his widespread condemnation.

Sentencing of Mehserle

The planned sentencing date for Mehserle was August 6, 2010. The defense has requested a new sentencing date of November 5.

Mehserle was given a two-year sentence on November 5, 2010. But was given credit for the 146 days he had spent in jail. 

The judge rejected the gun enhancement, which could have added three to 10 years to the defendant’s sentence. He was released at 12:01 a.m. on June 13, 2011.

Mehserle filed an appeal with the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco on May 9, 2012, over a year after his release from jail. 

Mehserle’s attorney, Dylan Schaffer, said that appealing would clear the way for his client to do “police work” again. 

In September 2012, the California Supreme Court unanimously declined reconsideration of an appellate ruling sustaining the conviction, despite their plans to appeal to the state and federal Supreme Courts.

Where is Johannes Mehserle now?

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced to 2 years in prison for the murder of Oscar Grant III.

However, he was released early after serving just over 11 months. Mehserle’s release from prison represents a fresh start, though not in the police force he joined more than 3 years ago.

The narrative of Grant’s killing and its repercussions will continue for years to come. The details of Mehserle’s future parole remain unknown at this time.

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