Former BART cop Johannes Mehserle is due to be released from prison Monday after serving less than a year for the fatal shooting of an unarmed train passenger, news reports say. Mehserle was found guilty last year of involuntary manslaughter for the New Year's Day 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant III as Grant lay face down on a platform at the Fruitvale BART station in East Oakland. Mehserle later said he meant to draw and fire his Taser, not his semi-automatic pistol.
The shooting, prosecutors' delay in bringing charges against Mehserle (he was eventually charged with second-degree murder), the verdict (acquitted of the murder charge, convicted on the lesser count), and sentence all sparked protests in Oakland and were the occasion of looting and vandalism in the downtown area.
When Mehserle was found guilty last year, the jury attached a gun enhancement to the conviction. With a maximum sentence of four years for involuntary manslaughter and another 10 years for the enhancement, Mehserle faced the possibility of a 14-year sentence. But the trial judge, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, threw out the enhancement and handed down the minimum sentence of two years on the involuntary manslaughter count. With credit for time served and for good conduct while in custody, Mehserle's total time behind bars was reduced to less than a year.
Mehserle's final court hearing has reportedly been set for 8:30 a.m. According to news accounts tonight, Grant's family and supporters will stage protest events Sunday and Monday in Los Angeles. Grant supporters in Oakland have announced they'll hold a protest at the Fruitvale BART station and march to downtown Oakland the day Mehserle is released.
Oakland Tribune: Mehserle expected to be released Monday
Bay Citizen: Mehserle to be released from jail Monday
KALW Informant: Johannes Mehserle to be released Monday, June 13
Oakland Local: California considers Mehserle shooting of Oscar Grant to be nonviolent offense
Indybay: Community will protest release of Johannes Mehserle