Johannes Mehserle sentenced to two years in prison


Judge Robert Perry gave Mehserle credit for time he has already served, meaning he could be released in as little as 7.3 months (219 days).

An emotional Mehserle took the stand in his sentencing hearing and apologized repeatedly. He never faced Oscar Grant's family or apologized specifically to them. His apologies were about "killing a man."

Mehserle said it had nothing to do with race.

"This had to do with Oscar Grant's actions and my reaction to it," he said.

He cried and said he wishes he could bring Oscar Grant back and that his family has had numerous death threats since the verdict.

"If my incarceration would bring peace to my family, I will go to jail," Mehserle said.

"He feels so sorry for the family; he apologized to them, to the public in the Bay Area," Mehserle's attorney Michael Rains said. "He said he knows that this case has set back relations between the law enforcement community and the community."

Grant's family spoke at the hearing. Grants mother, Wanda Johnson, begged the judge for the maximum sentence of 14 years.

"I told my son to take BART and the very people who are supposed to protect and serve took his life," she said, sobbing.

Grant's fiancé Sofina Messa told the court, "I hurt when I see my daughter growing up without a father."

Perry also dismissed a gun enhancement that could have resulted in the 28-year-old getting an additional 10 years because Perry said there was no evidence Mehserle intended to shoot Grant. Although Perry had initially granted a motion for a retrial on the charge, the dismissal means there will be no new trial without an appeal.

"Judge Perry himself said that he is clear the Oscar was resisting arrest, so the judicial system is saying, 'Yes, Oscar is at fault,'" Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson said.

"Those rulings were consistent with the evidence, those rulings were absolutely appropriate and the district attorney of Alameda County should be ashamed of himself for the way it's conducted this prosecution," Mehserle's attorney Michael Rains said.

Perry read from postcards and letters he has received from the public. More than 1,000 said he should sentence Mehserle to the maximum. One letter said, "Rightly or not, this has become a symbol of a white cop killing a black youth with impunity." Another letter said, "Please do the right thing and release Mr. Mehserle who made a horrible mistake."

One spectator was ejected from the courtroom for speaking out during the hearing and protestors were involved in a skirmish in front of courthouse. Sheriffs broke up the fight that involved at least two people.

Mehserle has spent the past four months in the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles.

Grant's mother and other family members have said repeatedly they believe the 28-year-old Mehserle deserves a long prison sentence. Grant left behind a 6-year-old daughter. Mehserle has a son who is a toddler.

Outside court, protestors reacted and the Grant family said the sentence would only increase tensions between the police and people of color in Oakland.

"This case does nothing at all to heal, if that was ever any intent," Grant family attorney John Burris said. "It really goes to continue the polarization and increase the strife within the community."

Several rallies were in Oakland Friday afternoon and Friday evening, protesters took to the streets in a march marked by a heavy police presence.

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