Ex-cop in BART killing cleared in beating case

December 1, 2011 7:30:23 PM PST
A federal civil jury rejected claims in an Oakland man's police brutality lawsuit against former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle and four other officers.

Kenneth Carrethers sued Mehserle and his co-defendants, claiming they beat him during his arrest in 2008. The jury ruled unanimously that Mehserle and the others were not liable for any of Carrether's claims, including the use of excessive force.

Attorney Dale Allen said Mehserle and the four BART officers simply want to move on with their lives now that the trial is over. The jury ruled that the police brutality claims Carrethers made against Mehserle and the others were unfounded.

"In this case, the jury found that the officers acted appropriately," said said lawyer Dale Allen. When the jury read the verdict, Mehserle was overcome with emotion -- his eyes tearing.

"Since the tragedy of Jan. 1, he's been through a greet deal, and he still feels terrble about what happened," Allen said, "and then to have to come into this lawsuit and have to relive this again in the form of a jury trial."

Carrethers was understandably disappointed.

"I'm hurt, but this is just another example of the things we need to address," Carrethers said. "The police need to be held accountable for the things they do in their jobs."

Carrethers was arrested Nov. 15, 2008. Carrethers claimed his car was broken into at the BART Coliseum station parking lot, saying officers attacked him without provocation when he asked them why they weren't doing anything about it.

Carrethers said he was hog tied, a procedure that's banned by BART police.

The defendants disputed his claims.

Mehserle wrote in his police report that Carrethers was "using profanities" and making "verbal threats against the officers." Mehserle also said Carrethers was arrested when he became confrontational and aggressive.

Carrethers' lawyer said police never looked at videotape from the station which would have documented what really happened.

"What happened in court is just another example of how, when the police were in control of the evidence (and) don't collect evidence that supports the people they're arresting, they get away with it." said lawyer Chris Dolan.

In the courtroom supporting Carrethers were relatives of Oscar Grant, the BART rider Mehserle shot and killed on New Year's Day in 2009.

"I did not think that he would get justice, because I haven't seen a black man get justice when it comes to police," said Grant's aunt Beatrice X.

The lawyer representing Mehserle said he has one more lawsuit filed against him. That lawsuit is from Grant's friends who were on the BART with him the night he was shot. That lawsuit is pending while the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decides some contested issues.


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