Defense Attorney Releases Mehserle Letter Apologizing for Shooting Grant
If this development doesn’t beat all others for running, jumping and standing gall in this case, I don’t know. I think that it’s all coldly calculated to influence the sentencing. Over the July 4th holiday weekend, Johannes Mehserle wrote this letter to his lawyer Michael Rains, and asked him to release it to the public. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
While the jury was deliberating his fate, former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle crafted a handwritten statement in which he apologized for the first time for shooting Oscar Grant, saying he will be forever haunted by Grant’s dying words.
“I don’t expect that I can ever convince some individuals how sorry I am for the death of Mr. Grant, but I would not feel right if I didn’t explain my thoughts as I wait for a decision by the jury,” Mehserle said.
So…why didn’t Mehserle say anything early on? Why wait until now, when the length and justification for his incarceration is being debated even in the streets, and that a ten-year punishment for irresponsibly using his weapon is being considered?
Low. Absolutely low.
This is the full text, people.
July 4, 2010
Please try to get this to message the public:
I don’t know what the jury in this case is going to decide, but I hope those who hate me and those who understand that I never intended to shoot Oscar Grant will listen to this message.
I have and will continue to live everyday of my life knowing that Mr. Grant should not have been shot. I know a daughter has lost a father and a mother has lost a son. It saddens me knowing that my actions cost Mr. Grant his life, no words can truly express how truly sorry I am.
I hoped to talk to Ms. Johnson and Ms. Mesa in the days following this terrible event, but death threats toward my newly-born son, my friends and family, resulted in no communication occuring [SIC]. I hope the day will come when anger will give way to a dialogue.
For now, and forever I will live, breathe, sleep, and not sleep with the memory of Mr. Grant screaming “You shot me” and me putting my hands on the bullet wound thinking the pressure would help while I kept telling him “You’ll be okay.” I tried to tell myself that maybe this shot would not be so serious, but I recall how sick I felt when Mr. Grant stopped talking, closed his eyes and seemed to change his breathing.
I don’t expect that I can ever convince some individuals how sorry I am for the death of Mr. Grant, but I would not feel right if I didn’t explain my thoughts as I wait for a decision by the jury.
Jesus H. Christ. I’m shaking my head as I write this. I just cannot believe the crassness of this ploy by the defense. Mehserle didn’t even apologize on the witness stand. This proves that Michael Rains will do anything to get his client off. It ain’t ovah yet. And people will seize upon this statement from the little white boy who made a mistake as proof that he’s a good guy turned bad because of that black boy. This is beyond sick. Hitler liked children and dogs; does that make him a good guy? Truly, the banality of evil.
Grant’s uncle and an attorney for his family said Friday they were unmoved by the apology. If Mehserle were genuinely sorry, they said, he should have said so long before now.
Cephus “Bobby” Johnson, Grant’s uncle, said that if Mehserle had written the letter the day after the killing and given it to the family, it would have carried more weight.
Now, he said, it amounts to “a convict pleading for mercy.”
“This is the first time we are hearing all of this,” Johnson said. “From the first, we had been condemned by his father who said that we were all trying to capitalize off his death. That told us that there was no sincerity in his heart, or his son’s heart about what happened to Oscar. Here we were, being crucified for seeking justice. We hadn’t done anything wrong.”
Except for being black 24 hours a day. When you’re black, you’re automatically guilty of something. Sometimes, it’s simply being alive.
What also gets me is that it is my recollection that Grant didn’t scream anything when he was shot. Perception versus reality again…
John Burris, an attorney who represents Grant’s family, said he considered the letter and Mehserle’s apology to be of “no consequence.”
“From our point of view, it would be more appropriate and better received if he had said he was sorry at the very moment he looked in his (Grant’s) eyes after the shooting,” Burris said. “He should have said, ‘Sorry, it was a mistake and I didn’t mean it.’ ”
Tony Coleman, spokesman for the Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant, said that “if you really want to say ‘sorry’ to somebody, you can arrange that. There is no excuse not to apologize immediately. This doesn’t have much value, right now, because you are saying it because the system is holding you accountable and you want leniency, as opposed to being genuinely sorry.”
Makes perfect sense to me. Forgiveness can’t happen yet; feelings are just too raw, if it is possible in this lifetime. However, there are many people who won’t feel that way at all. To them, Mehserle is the victim in this case, as he always thought of himself, as Rains thinks of him, and all the kneejerk cop lovers all over. And that Oscar Grant, dead for a year and a half now, a young black man who, up until that awful night, was on the right track despite his previous record, was the instigator and perpetrator of this perfect cop’s downfall. Some have rightly observed that Grant was being prosecuted in the case as if he was a rape victim–all of his previous actions, like a rape victim’s sexual history–was being used to justify his killing. That Grant deserved to be shot, even accidentally, for just being there at the wrong time.
And if that isn’t blaming the victim, I don’t know what is.