1/12/2009

Commuters Watch Police Murder Man

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 07:  Protestors carry si...Image by Getty Images
via Daylife
In this era of "change", 2009 began with sad reminders of how slow change comes. In the early morning of New Year's Day a 22 year old man was pulled off at BART train in Oakland, CA along with three others.

The police officers were looking for men who might have been involved in a fight earlier in the evening. One of the young men they chose to detain was Oscar Grant III, who was from Hayward who loved to fish, spend time with his family and was a dedicated father to his 4 year old daughter.

The police officers held up the train while they terrorized the four men on the platform leaving hundreds of witnesses to their actions and dozens of photos and videos of their actions.

The following is one of the closest and most clear videos of the murder available. You will also note in the "related videos" many others shot at the same time of this crime.



As the men were lined up against a wall, Grant tried to calm the others by speaking to them while the police officers seemed frightened and nervous. Shortly, one of the officers, Johannes Mehserle makes Grant lie face down on the concrete with his hands behind his back. Then, Mehserle, with no provocation, straddles Grant and fires his pistol into the mans back only inches from his body while another officer kneels on Grant's neck and holds him immobile.

The murder was caught on video and witnesses screamed in outrage at the officers. Moments after the fatal shots are fired by the murderer, Johannes Mehserle, the train doors close cutting off the witnesses from further view of the police officers dragging Grant away from the others.

It would seem to be an open and shut case of murder. The entire episode is caught from various angles on video. Yet, the District Attorney for Alameda County has refused to press charges against Mehserle or his accomplices. The local news media has downlplayed the incident and blatantly lied at times about the events despite video evidence. The police have also refused to take any action against Mehserle or his cohorts.

Mainstream news sources have failed to pick up this story other than a few brief mentions early which were quickly dropped in favor of Sarah Palin's latest gaffs.

The mainstream outlets were quick to come to the defense of Mehserle and his accomplices by postulating that Mehserle didn't mean to actually kill Grant. Instead, the local media outlets claim that Mehserle meant to Tazer Grant (still without provocation) and pulled the wrong weapon by mistake. It wasn't murder, it was just a simple, everyday mistake.

The problem with this scenario is that seconds pass between the drawing of the weapon and firing the weapon. Surely enought time for Mehserle to realize he was holding the wrong weapon if he only meant to Tazer Grant. After all, he is sighting down the barrel when he pulls the trigger. The "I pulled the wrong weapon" defense is novel, but it doesn't hold up.

HAYWARD, CA - JANUARY 07:  The body of twenty ...Image by Getty Images
via Daylife
Furthermore, Mehserle has refused to speak to investigators about the incident and instead resigned from the force citing death threats from the community. According to reports he has the "full support" of the police union (nothing new, they also supported Dan White in '78 when he shot two people in the back).

This has led to the community having to respond in Oakland. There is a vigil being held in memory of Mr. Grant and calling for swift action against his murderer and his accomplices:

PRAYING FOR PEACE, WORKING FOR JUSTICE
RALLY FOR OSCAR GRANT
WED JAN 14TH 4PM
FRANK OGAWA PLAZA
14TH AND BROADWAY OAKLAND, CA

You can also join a Facebook group for updates on the case and actions calling for justice. There is also a blog with information on the case at Blogger.com. Also, be sure to visit Join the Impact for more tips on what you can do to make sure Grant's murderers are brought to justice.

UPDATE:

Bay Area Rapid Transit officials on Monday completed their preliminary investigation of the New Year's Day fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer and forwarded the results to the district attorney.

BART Police Chief Gary Gee said his department did not make a recommendation on whether charges should be filed against Johannes Mehserle.

"We urge the district attorney to expeditiously review all the evidence available to him and bring this investigation to a conclusion," BART general manager Dorothy Dugger said in a news conference.

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff has said he hoped to decide by next week whether to bring criminal charges.

Mehserle's attorney, Christopher Miller, did not immediately return a call for comment.

"The whole world saw what happened. It's a shame and disgrace that this person has not been arrested," U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said in an interview Monday in Washington.

Asked whether a federal civil rights investigation might be called for, Lee said she wanted to see how the local investigation proceeded but added: "I'm ready to take the next step whatever that might be."

Meanwhile, U.S. Justice Department has sent mediators to Oakland to help resolve the tensions, according to a memo notifying Lee and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer on Thursday. (Source)


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