Oakland leaders prepare for Mehserle release

Former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle and unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant
June 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The site where former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed passenger Oscar Grant more than two years ago will be the scene of at least two Bay Area protests to mark Mehserle's release from jail.

That release will come sometime on Monday when Mehserle is expected to walk out of the Los Angeles jail. His release comes a year after his involuntary manslaughter conviction for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, an unarmed BART passenger on Oakland's Fruitvale platform on New Year's Day 2009.

It's an event that provoked violent protests in Oakland. City leaders say they're prepared if it happens again.

"It's emotional for a lot of people in Oakland," said Mayor Jean Quan. "We understand that there's some demonstrations that we hope will be as peaceful as last time, but if not we are totally prepared to respond."

Grant's family believes the former BART police officer served far too little time in jail, but attorney Jim Lassart, who has represented police officers in the past, says Mehserle's incarceration period is nothing out of the ordinary.

"He had normal credits that are required because he had been in jail for a period of time before he was sentenced," Lassart said. "The calculations from that are mechanical and driven by statute."

Grant's family has been frustrated and disappointed by the criminal justice system from the beginning, and they have little faith in it now that Mehserle release date has been set.

"The whole system is designed to not allow us to know what is truly happening with this defendant," said Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson. "What I've been experiencing with this system and it's lies and fabrication, and the misinformation that is given -- because they say it's going to happen on June 13th -- doesn't not mean it may happen on June 13th."

BART Police Officer's Association President Jessie Sekhon said Mehserle is Grant's death will linger with the former officer forever.

"I know that this is something he's going to live with for the rest of his life," Sekhon told ABC7 News by phone, "and the same can be said of the men and women of the police department. My condolences go out to Oscar Grant's family as well as to the family of former officer Mehserle."

Oakland Police had little comment today about the protests planned for Sunday evening, except to say they are preparing to facilitate peaceful gatherings.

Mehserle's attorney, Michael Rains, was unavailable for comment today. Rains has said in the past that his client is looking forward to get on with his life and "fade into oblivion."


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