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Protests planned in L.A., Oakland after Johannes Mehserle, ex-BART officer involved in shooting, is released

June 13, 2011 |  7:12 am


Protests in Los Angeles and Oakland are planned after a former BART officer involved in a racially charged fatal shooting was released from a Los Angeles County jail early Monday morning.

Demonstrators are being called to gather Monday outside the Justice Department's offices in downtown Los Angeles and downtown Oakland, organizers said over the weekend. Small protests occurred Saturday and Sunday.

L.A. County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry ruled Friday that Johannes Mehserle, who was sentenced last November to serve two years, should be released because of credits for time served and good behavior.

A Los Angeles jury convicted Mehserle last July of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station on New Year's Day 2009. The case sparked riots and protests in Oakland and was moved to Southern California. It sparked more unrest when Mehserle was not convicted of a more serious charge and was sentenced to two years behind bars.

Grainy video of the shooting -- captured by several witnesses -- showed Mehserle, who is white, firing one round into the back of Grant, who was black. Alameda County prosecutors accused the officer of murder. Mehserle, 29, testified that he meant to use his Taser but mistakenly grabbed his pistol.

"It's a travesty," Grant's uncle, Cephus Johnson, said Saturday at a meeting of community organizers preparing to protest Mehserle's release. "This fight is not over, and I am not going away."


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Photo: Eric Ares, Joe Thomas and Pedro Ares, from left, carry protest signs in front of the downtown Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse on Monday morning. The three men, all of Los Angeles, and others were protesting the release of a former BART officer involved in a racially charged fatal shooting. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times