09 27 2016
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- California's Attorney General said Saturday he would dispatch a state prosecutor to monitor Alameda County's investigation into the New Year's Day slaying of an unarmed man by a transit police officer.
Jerry Brown said an unnamed attorney from his office will act as independent observer over the investigation being conducted by Alameda County prosecutors.
Local prosecutors, Oakland police and Bay Area Rapid Transit investigators are trying to determine why BART police officer Johannes Mehserle fatally shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant. Anger has risen since the slaying as grainy video of the shooting has been played repeatedly on television and the Internet, while the officer has not been charged with any crime.
Brown made the announcement after meeting Saturday with state and local Black leaders in his Oakland office. Brown says he understands the frustration with the pace of the criminal investigation, but was hesitant to intervene in the inquiry.
"Just being here and listening brings home the powerful feelings based not only on this incident, but on many incidents in the past and that builds up," Brown said.
Brown added he wasn't trying to second guess Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff but felt "he needs to be aware that things have to move in this case."
District Attorney Orloff told The Associated Press on Saturday that he had talked with Brown about the monitoring and agreed with the idea. "I think it's a good idea, the more people that look at this the better," he said.
Orloff said he did not think a monitor would slow down the inquiry's progress. Orloff said Thursday that it would likely take two weeks to determine if criminal charges would be filed in the case.
Mehserle, who had been a BART officer for two years, resigned from the department Wednesday before speaking with internal affairs investigators about the incident and has not made any public comments. Meanwhile, more than 100 demonstrators were arrested after protests turned violent on Wednesday, and to a smaller extent, again on Thursday.
In an effort to deal with rising community anger, BART officials announced that a delegation of its board would on Sunday hold a meeting with local leaders and elected officials. "This meeting we have planned will be another step in the healing process," said Carole Ward Allen, a board member.
The pace of the investigation has angered some in the Black community, who feel that the video footage showing Grant being shot by Mehserle is enough evidence.
Alice Huffman, president of the California chapter of the NAACP, said the videos are conclusive enough evidence for her that criminal charges should be filed.
"I'm not a lawyer and I'm not a prosecutor. It looked like murder to me, and we would not be happy if there were not criminal charges," she said. "I don't know what degree, I don't practice law, but you cannot see a video like that and think that there shouldn't be some criminal charges brought against that particular police person."
The BART Police Officers Association issued a statement of condolence Saturday to Grant's family and said the union was working with investigators to "ensure that appropriate protocols are in place so this type of incident never happens again."

 

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