BART officer Mehserle should be released from jail on Monday, judge says
A Los Angeles County judge ruled Friday that a transit police officer who has been serving a two-year prison sentence for the shooting of an unarmed man on an Oakland train station platform should be released on Monday.
Johannes Mehserle, 29, was taken into custody on July 8 when a Los Angeles jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter in the New Year's Day 2009 shooting. Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry sentenced Mehserle in November, and the former BART officer has been serving out his sentence in the L.A. County jail.
Perry issued an order Friday saying that Mehserle is entitled by law to one day of prison credit for every day he serves behind bars and that he will have spent a total of one year in custody on Monday. That year includes 25 days Mehserle spent in jail following his arrest in February 2009 before he was released on bail before the trial.
The killing of Oscar Grant III, 22, set off protests and rioting in Oakland. Grainy video footage of the shooting was captured by several witnesses and shows Mehserle, who is white, firing one round into the back of Grant, who was black. Alameda County prosecutors accused the officer of murder. Mehserle testified that he meant to use his Taser as he struggled to handcuff Grant but mistakenly grabbed his pistol.
Cephus Johnson, the victim’s uncle, said Friday that Grant’s family felt “pain and disappointment” at news of Mehserle’s expected release. He said a protest rally has been scheduled for Monday morning outside the downtown Los Angeles criminal courthouse where Mehserle was convicted and sentenced.
-- Jack Leonard
Photo: Johannes Mehserle in court during sentencing. Credit: Associated Press