Former BART officer testifies in civil trial

The former BART police officer who fatally shot unarmed passenger Oscar Grant testified in a civil lawsuit filed by the victim's father.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The former BART police officer who shot and killed unarmed passenger Oscar Grant in 2009 was back in court on Wednesday.

Johannes Mehserle testified for the first time since his criminal trial. This time, it's a civil suit filed against him.

The court has to decide whether Mehserle was justified in shooting Grant.

Grant's father, Oscar Grant Jr., is suing Mehserle, chargin that he's been deprived of a familial relationship with his son who died on New Year's Day more than five years ago.

"He was looking forward to seeing his son and developing a greater relationship and seeing him in the future," said Wakeen McCoy, Oscar Grant Jr.'s lawyer.

Grant was in court Wednesday at the plaintiffs table with two state corrections officers sitting behind him. He was transported from a prison, where he's serving a life sentence for murder.

The dramatic moment of the day came when McCoy showed the cellphone video of the shooting. Mehserle never looked up as it was playing.

It wasn't until the afternoon when he finally took the stand.

McCoy carefully led Mehserle through a litany of questions about his career, his training, and eventually to the night of the shooting. But his main line of questioning had to do with whether Mehserle intended to shoot Grant.

"He drew his firearm because he mistakenly thought that Oscar Grant had a gun," McCoy said. "You don't bring a Taser out to defend yourself when you are presented with a gun. So that shows that he intended to kill him."

Zephoria Smith is the mother of Grant's best friend Johntue Caldwell, who was detained on the BART train along with the others.

His lawyers claim that Caldwell's civil rights were violated and that he was detained unlawfully. Caldwell was murdered three years ago during a drive-by shooting.

"With both Oscar being deceased now and also Johntoue, it's hard to believe," she said. "I don't know what to say. I'm a mother and I'm an aunt and I've been in a lot of pain
through this.

Mehserle and his lawyers were not available for comment.

The trial resumes Friday.
Related Topics:
news crime shooting oscar grant johannes mehserle BART OPD lawsuit trial trials court court case Oakland San Francisco
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