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In a letter, Mehserle speaks of anguish over shooting

July 9, 2010 |  4:27 pm

The former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter Thursday for shooting an unarmed passenger in Oakland has issued a statement apologizing for his actions.

"I hope those who hate me and those who understand that I never intended to shoot Oscar Grant will listen to this message. I have and will continue to live everyday of my life knowing that Mr. Grant should not have been shot. I know a daughter has lost a father and a mother has lost a son," Johannes Mehserle wrote in a handwritten letter released by his attorney Friday.  "It saddens me knowing that my actions cost Mr. Grant his life, no words express how truly sorry I am."

The verdict in a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday prompted protests as well as looting and rioting on the streets of Oakland.

Crowds of people roamed the streets into early Friday, smashing storefront windows, stealing merchandise, setting trash fires and tagging walls.

According to Oakland police, more than 80 people were arrested. Among the stores looted were a Foot Locker, Sears, 24 Hour Fitness and jewelry stores.

In his letter, Mehserle said he hoped tempers over the case would ease.

"I hope the day will come when anger will give way to dialog. For now, and forever I will live, breathe, sleep, and not sleep with the memory of Mr. Grant screaming "You shot me" and putting my hands on the bullet wound thinking the pressure would help while I kept telling him 'You'll be okay!' I tried to tell myself that maybe this shot would not be so serious, but I recall how sick I felt when Mr. Grant stopped talking, closed his eyes and seemed to change his breathing. I don't expect that I can ever convince some individuals how sorry I am for the death of Mr. Grant, but I would not feel right if I didn't explain my thoughts as I wait for a decision of the jury."

Mehserle faces anywhere from four to 14 years in prison.

-- Maria L. LaGanga and Shelby Grad