Defense takes the stand in Mehserle trial

June 22, 2010 6:09:04 PM PDT
The judge in the murder trial of a former BART police officer said Tuesday he will release video and a police dispatch recorder in the case that has never before been seen or heard publicly.

The video, which will be released Wednesday, includes images from BART surveillance video taken by BART passengers who witnessed former officer Johannes Mehserle shoot unarmed passenger Oscar Grant New Year's Day 2009 at the Fruitvale station. BART police dispatch recordings will also be released.

Until now, the images have only been played in court.

A San Leandro police officer involved in a 2006 tasing incident with Grant took the stand Tuesday morning as the first witness for the defense.

Officer Alex Hidas said he pulled over Grant and his friends during a traffic stop. Grant began to run and during the pursuit police tased him.

Hidas said after being tased, Grant refused to remove his hands from underneath his body. BART police say Grant also refused to show his hands shortly before Mehserle shot him.

Judge Robert Perry told the jury why the testimony is relevant to the case.

"One of the issues in the trial is whether Oscar Grant resisted BART officers' commands and if so the nature and quality of Grant's resistance," he said.

Grant's family says the old arrest is irrelevant in Mehserle's murder trial.

"Mehserle is the defendant, not Oscar, and therefore we should be looking at Mehserle's history, his character make up so that we can understand his state of mind," Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson said.

Mehserle's lawyer Michael Rains questioned Grant's friend, Jack Bryson, who was with him on the platform.

He asked about their drinking that night and he told jurors an earlier scuffle on the train involved just Grant and another man.

But a married couple riding BART that night also testified for the defense and said it was a full blown fight, with punches and as many as 10 people.

Bryson's father says his son told the truth.

"Michael Rains is fabricating this whole thing that happened on the platform and these young men are telling the truth about what happened. I mean, they were beaten, they were tortured and one was killed," he said.

Bryson gave the most dramatic testimony, and he lashed out during court at Mehserle's defense. Lawyers said Rains was trying to discredit Grant and his friends and in a very stunning moment in court when that 23-year-old [Bryson] was trying to identify the defendant, he looked at Mehserle and said, "He is the one that killed Oscar."


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