Over a dozen businesses have been damaged and 83 people have been arrested after the verdict against Officer Johannes Mehserle. A crowd of 500 waited outside of the courtroom Thursday afternoon as a Los Angeles jury convicted the white former transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.
On New Years Day 2009 Mehserle was called with other officers to breakup a fight off an Oakland train platform. Mehserle struggled with the 22-year-old Oscar Grant and believed he had a weapon. The officer claims he planned to shock Grant with his Taser gun, but instead pulled out his .40 caliber handgun and shot him in the back puncturing his lung. Grant died a few hours later.
According to The Huffington Post:
“This city is not the wild, wild west,” said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts. “This city will not tolerate this sort of activity.” Though police did not release a damage estimate, the protesting appeared to be much less severe than the rioting that hit Oakland after Grant was shot.
The jury had a choice between second-degree murder and lesser charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The jury found that Mehserle didn’t mean to kill Grant, but that his behavior was still so negligent that it was criminal. Involuntary manslaughter convictions carry a sentence of two to four years.
During the trial, Wanda Johnson sat most days in the second row of a Los Angeles courtroom less than 30 feet from the man who killed her son. She hoped and prayed the justice system wouldn’t fail her.
After the jury’s finding, Johnson denounced the verdict and let loose emotions that had been mostly bottled up during the three-week trial.
“My son was murdered! He was murdered! He was murdered,” she said outside the courthouse.
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