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Transit officer who killed unarmed man let 'emotions dictate actions,' prosecutor says

July 1, 2010 | 10:32 am

A former transit police officer charged with murder in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in Oakland let his emotions dictate his actions, prosecutors said Thursday in closing arguments in the case. 

“The defendant’s desire to punish, his desire to belittle, his desire to mistreat Oscar Grant, not only resulted in chaos and distrust and disorder, it resulted in the death of an innocent  man," said Alameda County Deputy Dist. Atty. David R. Stein. “He let his emotions dictate his actions. He let aggression dictate his conduct.”

Defendant Johannes Mehserle, 28, shot and killed Oscar J. Grant III, 22, in the back as the victim lay on a Bay Area Rapid Transit station platform on New Year's Day 2009. Prosecutors have argued that the shooting was intentional.

The ex-officer told jurors that he mistakenly drew his firearm instead of his electric Taser weapon as he struggled to handcuff Grant.

The case was moved to Los Angeles County amid concerns about extensive pretrial publicity in the Bay Area. Closing arguments in the 3-week-old trial began Thursday.

On Wednesday, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry rejected a defense argument that jurors should be allowed to consider only second-degree murder in the case against Mehserle. But Perry also ruled that prosecutors could not argue for a first-degree murder conviction.

-- Jack Leonard