Appeals Court Upholds Conviction in BART Shooting
Officer who fatally shot Oscar Grant has involuntary manslaughter conviction upheld
June 11, 2012
The 1st District Court of Appeal on Friday affirmed the conviction of Johannes Mehserle in the shooting death of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year's Day 2009, an incident that continues to spark outcry and has led to violent protests.
The court rejected all of Mehserle's arguments, including allegations that there was insufficient evidence supporting his conviction and that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge did not properly instruct jurors, the Oakland Tribune reported.
``That is good news; we are happy to know that it has been upheld,'' Grant's uncle, Cephus ``Uncle Bobby'' Johnson, told the newspaper Friday. ``Hopefully, the system will work all the way through because I am sure the defense will appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court.''
Mehserle's attorneys have indicated that they will likely take their case to the state Supreme Court.
Mehserle, 30, was released last year after serving a two-year prison sentence.
The shooting became a flashpoint of civil unrest in Oakland after several passengers on board a train recorded Mehserle shooting an unarmed Grant, 22, in the back. The incident was repeatedly shown on television and around the world on the Internet.
In 2010, Mehserle's high-profile murder trial was relocated to Los Angeles, after a judge in Oakland determined that an impartial jury could not be seated in Alameda County. During his trial, Mehserle tearfully testified that he mistakenly drew his gun instead of his Taser when he fatally shot Grant.
The shooting continues to spark outcry as occasional protests have turned violent. More than 150 people were arrested in Oakland hours after Mehserle's 2010 sentencing.
During arguments to the state appeals court in San Francisco to overturn Mehserle's conviction, attorney Dylan Schaffer, argued that the L.A. judge who presided over the murder trial should have allowed defense attorneys to present evidence showing that another officer in Kentucky had made a mistake similar to Mehserle.
However, the court disagreed.
``This court is not blind to the stress and danger of police service, but neither can we ignore established California law of involuntary manslaughter,'' Appeals Court Judge James Marchiano wrote in the decision. ``We conclude there is sufficient evidence from which the jury could legitimately have found that defendant acted with the requisite criminal negligence to support his conviction for involuntary manslaughter.''