Johannes Mehserle released from LA County Jail

June 14, 2011 1:14:38 AM PDT
Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is a free man, released after serving half of a two year sentence. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the death of BART passenger Oscar Grant.

Out of concerns for his safety, Mehserle was kept at the Los Angeles County Jail throughout his 11 month sentence. He was never sent to prison.

The fact that he was never sent to prison is among the issues that upset Grant's family. Monday, some of their heated words have Mehserle's attorney worried about retribution now that his client is free. Grant supporters are vowing not to let Mehserle forget what happened on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station two and a half years ago.

"I want to be present so that he can see me, that he knows that his life is not going to be just back to normal business as if nothing happened," Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson said.

Mehserle served one year of his two year sentence, convicted of involuntary manslaughter for shooting Grant in the back.

Mehserle's attorney Michael Rains told KGO Radio he is concerned about some of the rhetoric aimed at his client.

"I heard this morning a statement by Mr. Johnson saying that he has no interest in talking to Johannes but he intends to be part of life; I almost see that as a threat," Rains said.

For now, Mehserle is reuniting with his family in Northern California, including a young son born the day after Grant was killed. He will remain on parole for the foreseeable future.

Ron Cottingham is the president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, which helped pay for Mehserle's defense.

"When Johannes testified, I think everyone could see how he broke down on the stand when he was talking about the accident, what occurred, what prompted it and he has more remorse than most any other person I've ever seen," Cottingham said.

"He was sentenced two years in the state penitentiary, he didn't step one day in the penitentiary," one Grant supporter said during a rally.

But Grant's family and supporters say Mehserle's life will be far from normal. They are pursuing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the former officer and they want the Department of Justice to investigate.

"This is a travesty to us as a people in the state of California and as well in the United States," Johnson said.

While at the jail, Mehserle was kept in a private cell away from other inmates for his safety. His sentence was calculated based on a schedule that included credit for time served and good behavior.

Rains, Mehserle has had some job offers in the Bay Area. He would like to remain there but will only do so if it is safe for him and his family.


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