Johannes Mehserle GUILTY of Involuntary Manslaughter in the Shooting of Oscar Grant
Second-degree murder would have done it for me. But explain this one to Grant’s family, and to people in Oaktown, and I don’t just mean black people. A two- to four-year sentence? It’s a slap on the wrist.
Right now, people in Oaktown and L.A. are shocked, stunned, upset. If any of the authorities says something stupid or insensitive or outright racist, watch that simmering start to gel. They’ve been trying to cool things down out there for several weeks. My earlier prediction about violence could be wrong, and I am willing to be wrong, but the evening is young.
Many merchants in Oakland have boarded up and/or closed their establishments, with Oakland city workers taking off as soon as they heard that a verdict had been reached close to 3 p.m. Pacific Time.
In his closing argument, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Stein said jurors should convict Mehserle because the evidence has proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Don’t convict the defendant because of sympathy or favor,” Stein said. “Convict him based on the evidence in this case.”
Defense attorney Michael Rains argued for acquittal, saying the shooting was a tragic accident. He cited testimony stating that his client had inadequate training to prevent weapons confusion and witnesses who said Mehserle appeared to be in shock after shooting Grant.
“On Jan. 1, 2009, Johannes Mehserle fired a single gunshot and it brought him to this place before you, and you are his shot at justice,” Rains told jurors, citing a line from the 1982 legal drama “The Verdict,” starring Paul Newman.
Mehserle put his arm around Rains after the attorney concluded four hours of arguments over two days.
Mehserle testified that he mistakenly pulled his handgun instead of his Taser stun gun before Grant was shot. He resigned from the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency after the shooting.
Not to be outdone by the theatrics of Rains, Stein showed jurors an 18-inch bronze statue of Lady Justice and explained why the figure carries a scale and is blindfolded.
“Police officers are supposed to protect and serve, not abuse their authority as occurred in this case,” said Stein.
“We also entrust them with our lives and our fellow citizens,” Stein said. “Oscar Grant represents one of those citizens.”
I can feel Paul Newman rolling over in his Connecticut grave. The Verdict wasn’t about cop misbehavior. Defense attorney Rains must have thought he was in Hollywood and not Los Angeles. But of course, he wanted to bring the jury into that fairy tale world, that world of Fort Apache, Law and Order, Colors. And they bought it, but their view is wrong, wrong, wrong. As I have previously said, most cops think that they’re in a movie or one of those cop shows on TV, and blacks and Latinos simply barge into that world as overly magnified beasts with no souls.
I keep saying, this ain’t a movie. This is real life.
And Oscar Grant was a human being.
This jury was not composed of any blacks. It was a predominantly white jury, of white women. There were eight women and four men. Three jurors identified themselves as Latino. One was Asian American. One juror refused to ID him/herself as any race. I may be wrong, but it appears to me that this last individual may have been biracial, that is, black and something else.
It’s too early to gauge whether the scary black male meme also played out in their decision as well. But don’t worry, it will pop up.
The heartbroken mother of Oscar Grant, Wanda Johnson, was said to have stood up and faced the jury, speechless and yet visibly upset. She got up in protest and left earlier in the trial after Mehserle gave his sad-sack testimony. What it meant for this mother–and not the “stoic” mother of Mehserle that the local mainstream media is begging in vain to see and to interview–is that the jury essentially believed defense attorney Rains’ cockamamie blather about Mehserle’s “mistake.” At this moment, I feel for her. It seems those white and Latino women are more inclined to have pity for Mehserle’s mom and wife than for Wanda Johnson–and isn’t she a woman and a mother, too? Some haters have said that Johnson’s going to make out like a bandit as a result of her wrongful death suit against BART and Oakland; however, the only person who has been awarded anything so far in this tragedy was Oscar Grant’s little daughter. Not every relative or wife/husband is out to get as much money as they can on the dead bodies of their loved ones.
Don’t even think that Mehserle showed any remorse, or even apologized to Wanda Johnson for his actions in court. That would be too much like right. It was all about him and his “mistake.” His tears were all for himself. Ever since the murder, he’s wanted distance from his own actions, which included a flight to Nevada, from where he had to be extradited.
And don’t think that money will bring Oscar Grant back. This is not about money. It’s about life. It was about justice. This young man’s life is gone, and he’s died twice. First, it was his actual death, and now it’s injustice by jury. Johnson gave birth to that life, for better or for worse. Don’t tell me black mothers don’t want their kids–especially their boy babies–to do well and to stay out of trouble. They do. But it’s been open season on black boys and men without let up, particularly since Obama became president. I think that it was no accident that Grant’s murder occurred right on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2009, two months after the election, along with a plethora of incidents involving police and black men and boys and gunplay by said cops across the country. The Universe was giving people a heads up that all was not right among the lowly, even though the great came from among us.
I personally am tired of police and their supporters decrying the lack of respect for the badge, for what “services” the police do for the community, but when it comes to serial killers among us, they turn their faces away in places like Cleveland, OH and Los Angeles CA. I also get tired of black cop misbehavior as well towards black civilians, as if they have become the Simon Legrees among us, too. I’m also tired of the no-snitching rule that is killing the black community and which is directly tied to cop misbehavior and the failure of the justice system. I am so tired of mourning and hearing about young black men like Sean Bell in New York and Robbie Tolan in Texas. There seems to be no understanding at all from the powers-that-are with their run-amok cops about how their actions don’t prevent crime but actually engender more fear and hatred and loathing, and how they’d rather destroy black life senselessly and needlessly.