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BART police officer murder trial set to begin in Los Angeles

June 2, 2010 |  9:12 am

The murder trial of a former BART police officer who fatally shot an unarmed rider last year, sparking riots in Oakland, is expected to begin Wednesday with jury selection in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Johannes Mehserle, 28, is charged in the New Year's Day 2009 killing of Oscar Grant on a BART station platform.

Grant was among a group of men who were detained after a fight on a BART train. Fellow passengers recorded the shooting and its chaotic aftermath on cellphones, and the video was viewed widely over the Internet and on TV.

The video showed that Grant was lying face down, being restrained by officers, when Mehserle shot him once in the back.

Mehserle's defense attorney has argued the officer meant to shoot Grant with an electric stun gun but mistakenly grabbed his pistol.

The case, which was moved to Los Angeles because of concerns about pretrial publicity in Alameda County, involves a rare charge against a police officer accused of murder while on duty.

-- Jack Leonard