Update: BART Cop Trial for Shooting of Oscar Grant Sent to Los Angeles, Not San Diego
Grant’s family is counting this as a victory against the defendant’s attorney, who wanted the trial sent to a jury from a more conservative area like San Diego County, and not from an area like Los Angeles County with a jury pool that includes more moderates and liberals, and more working and middle-class people of color and blacks.
“I really wanted to jump for joy,” said Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant III, the 22-year-old Hayward man whom Mehserle fatally shot early Jan. 1 on the platform at BART’s Fruitvale station in Oakland. “The family is ecstatic.”
Grant family attorney John Burris called the ruling “the most important decision that will be made in this case other than the verdict.” If the case had been sent to San Diego County, Burris said, “Mehserle would have walked.”
Judge Morris Jacobson appeared to select Los Angeles, which is more closely allied demographically to Alameda County, because it would be cheaper. Although San Diego County officials said they could be ready for a trial sooner, they said they would need extra funds from Alameda County to pay for extra security and they needed an East Bay judge to come to San Diego to try the case. Los Angeles officials said they don’t have those problems, although they said they won’t be ready for trial until later next year.
Johannes Mehserle’s attorney, Michael Rains, objected that a year’s wait for a trial in Los Angeles would severely impact his client who is undergoing financial hardships and is having difficulty even finding a job while free on bail.
“A fellow facing murder charges doesn’t just go out and find a job,” Rains said. “This is an enormous hardship on my client.”
Rains also argued that having the case tried in Los Angeles could hurt his client because of the past incidents there involving police brutality.
“We will be going back to the boiling cauldron,” Rains said. “It is possible that this case ignites that boiling cauldron.”
Yeah, but it wouldn’t be L.A. catching fire but Oaktown. And that would only happen if the DAs blew the case. Of course, Mehserle should have thought about those things before he pulled the trigger on a prostrate Oscar Grant. I don’t think even six months more would be enough time for Mehserle to get a new job. If he’s thinking of getting a position in law enforcement, I think that he is fresh out of luck in that area. Even if he tried to get a desk job, he’s notorious.
Compared to someone like Sgt. Mark Todd, who brought down Major Hasan earlier this month, and who had only discharged his weapon for the first time that day in 25 years of law enforcement, Mehserle seems immature to be using weapons at all.
I was hoping that it would be L.A., too for the family’s and for the city’s sake. There is still a possibility that justice will be served in Oscar Grant’s case.