Ex-LAPD captain testifies in BART shooting trial

June 28, 2010 7:49:23 PM PDT
A retired LAPD captain and police tactics expert, who also served as an expert on behalf of the officers involved in the Rodney King beating case, one of the most famous cases of police use of force caught on video, took the stand Monday in former BART officer Johannes Mehserle's defense.

Prosecutors attempted to discredit Greg Meyer by highlighting the number of times he has testified in defense of police officers and police departments. Meyer now advises Taser International, the company that makes the shock devices, on Taser policy. He told jurors he also advises the LAPD chief on use of force issues. He said he has testified in 55 criminal cases in defense of an officer or police agency, and that he has earned more than $30,000 for his work on the Mehserle case.

Under cross-examination, Meyer said he ultimately concluded that the officers in the Rodney King case were not guilty of excessive force. He said they were just following a flawed departmental policy.

Meyer said Mehserle also followed a flawed BART policy when he went to use a Taser on Oscar Grant, but that the tasing would have been justified.

Meyer told jurors Mehserle received poor taser training on the BART force. Defense attorney Michael Rains asked him, "Was the training provided to Mr. Mehserle adequate to avoid incidents of possible Taser confusion?" Meyer replied, "No." Grant's family accused the longtime police officer of protecting one of his own on the stand.

"I feel he's biased. He's been with the police force for years. Why would he say anything else?" said Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson. "He's biased. Of course he's going to lie and side with the police.

The expert could not identify Grant in a video of the shooting, he mistakenly referred to Grant as the defendant, and seemed unfamiliar with key facts in the case, admitting he had not reviewed witness statements before taking the stand.

Meyer said that after his work on the BART case, he has advised the maker of Tasers to change its policy so that officers only draw Tasers with their weak, non-shooting hand to avoid confusion. But he admitted that advice was given just recently.

"He waited 'til Saturday -- two days before becoming a witness -- after hearing Mehserle testify to try to fix this problem that Mehserle had created for himself," said Grant's uncle, Cephus Johnson.

Mehserle is on trial for murder in Los Angeles, where the case was moved because of pre-trial publicity in the Bay Area. He testified last week that he meant to use his Taser on unarmed passenger, Oscar Grant, but instead accidently shot him in the back as he lay face down on the Fruitvale station platform early New Year's morning 2009.

Tuesday, the defense will question a police psychologist who studies officer behavior in high stress situations.

Laywers in the case are expected to make closing arguments this week.


Load Comments