Prosecution rests in murder case against Mehserle

Johannes Mehserle has said he was reaching for his Taser, but mistakenly used his gun and fatally shot Grant.
June 21, 2010 7:07:03 PM PDT
In a Los Angeles courtroom Monday, the prosecution rested its case against Johannes Mehserle, former BART police officer accused of murdering an unarmed passenger in Oakland.

Next, the defense will make its case.

The very first witness lawyers plan to call will be a San Leandro police officer who tased Oscar Grant back in 2006 when he ran from police and resisted arrest. The judge in the case has already ruled that the officer cannot tell jurors that authorities believe Grant was carrying a gun during that incident, but it is a sign of the case that Mesherle's lawyers are about to unfold, and a sign of what role Oscar Grant's background will play in the trial.

The BART train conductor who was driving the train that Grant and his friends had been riding on minutes before the shooting was one of the final witnesses called on the last day of the prosecution's case.

She said that officers never asked her to identify the young men before or after they were detained on the platform for fighting on her train. She was one of the 26 witnesses who testified for prosecutors over seven days.

ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said the Alameda County district attorney has made a case for murder, but nearly every witness has told jurors that Mehserle looked surprised after he shot Grant, and that scores points for the defense.

"And, all of the evidence of chaos and confusion around him goes to negate the notion that he had formed deliberate intent to kill," Johnson says. "So, some points for prosecution, probably enough to get to the jury but also with almost every witness, some points for the defense."

Mehserle's defense lawyer Michael Rains said he intends to ask the judge to dismiss the case based on the evidence presented, but analysts say the formality will likely be denied.

On the final day of prosecution witnesses, jurors saw 27 minutes of video that exists of what happened on the Fruitvale station platform early New Year's morning 2009. The material showed moments from the BART train pulling in to the station, to when Mehserle walks onto the platform. Within two and a half minutes of being there, he fired the shot that killed Grant.

In court Monday, prosecutor David Stein said Mehserle's accidental shooting defense does not stand up to the evidence. He said, "Mr. Mehserle can be seen speaking to fellow officers and at no point did the defendant ever make any statement that this was an accident or he mistakenly pulled his sidearm for his Taser."

This is the first time in California that a police officer has been tried for murder for an on-duty shooting. It is still unknown whether Mehserle will take the stand in his own defense. There is still a gag order on the case.

On Tuesday, Oscar Grant's friend who was with him on the platform when he was killed is expected to speak.


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