Killer BART cop granted bail

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, left, shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant III, left, in the back while he laid down on the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland. After numerous protests, Mehserle was arrested Jan. 14. He was granted $3 million bail on Jan. 30

Protesters enraged, nine arrested

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, who killed the unarmed Oscar Grant III, meant to fire his taser and not his gun, according to his defense attorney who convinced a judge to set bail Jan. 30. He remained in jail through Friday night, according to the County Sheriff's Department, despite reports that he was released.

A few dozen people packed the Alameda County Courthouse lobby Friday afternoon for the bail hearing's 43 available seats while hundreds more protested outside the courthouse. Inside the courtroom, the front rows were reserved for the families of both Grant and Mehserle.

Mehserle-who appeared with a red jail-issued jumpsuit did not speak. Instead, he was represented by his defense attorney, Michael Rains. He called Grant's killing a "tragic, tragic accident."

Two young women break out in tears after hearing that Mehserle was granted $3 million bail on Jan. 30.
Rains, who previously represented "The Riders"-the notorious group of Oakland Police officers who were acquitted of charges of abusing alleged drug dealers and planting evidence on others-stated Mehserle meant to tase Grant, not shoot him.

According to court documents, Mehserle was heard telling another officer, "I'm going to tase him, I'm going to tase him." Although it appears to conflict with another statement that said Grant was resisting and was reaching for a weapon. "I can't get his arms. He won't give me his arms," Mehserle allegedly said, "His hands are going for his waistband."

Judge Morris Jacobson, at the end of the hour-long hearing, said that Mehserle did not appear to be a threat to the public and set his bail at $3 million. He noted that Mehserle was a flight risk and was originally apprehended in Nevada. Jacobson did call Rains accounts inconsistent and stated that, Mehserle was willing to lie to avoid the consequences of his actions.

The defense requested bail set at $100,000, while others believed he shouldn't have been granted bail.

Prior to the judge issuing a gag order, the Grant family's attorney John Burris, who filed the $25 million civil suit against BART, stated that Mehserle was both a threat to the public and a flight risk.

"The family is very disappointed," said Burris, who noted that the $3 million bail was one of the highest amounts he's seen. "He has a right to bail, but $3 million is a considerably high amount." Although-considering his access to weapons-the bail was not enough for his family. Or for protestors.

News that Mehserle was granted bail was met with anger by protestors, already upset about the killing of Grant, the unarmed father of a four-year old daughter.

"This is ridiculous," said one young woman who left the courthouse in tears. "If he was Black, he'd still be in jail."

Protestors then marched from 12th and Oak chanting, "No justice? No peace!" and were joined by those who just left the courthouse. towards the front of the courthouse. On the same steps where members of the Black Panther Party once demanded "Free Huey," protestors expressed their outrage about the former officer being granted bail yelling, "F*** the police."

"There are only two ways out of this courthouse," shouted Mandingo Hayes. "Surround the building, don't let him leave."

Protestors then marched to OPD's headquarters where they had a standoff with officers. After the rear window of an unmarked police vehicle was smashed, protestors were tear-gassed and "flash bangs" were thrown rubber bullets were shot. Hayes was hit in the chest with a tear gas container.

Possibly enflaming the situation were reports that Mehserle had been released, including one by Oakland's mayor.

Mayor Ron Dellums released a statement to the media Friday afternoon alleging that Mehserle "posted bail and was released from jail." Meanwhile, the Mayor called "for peace in our streets." He later recanted the statement.

After being dispersed, protestors reconvened at 14th & Broadway where protestors stopped traffic, and two climbed on top of a #15 AC Transit bus.

Photo: & CounterPunch

Protestors then marched back towards the courthouse, but were met by police in riot gear. Not only were Oakland Police out in full force, but BART police, colleagues of the officer at the center of the controversy.

The streets were blocked off and protestors were pinched on 14th Street between Alice and Harrison. Protestors were told to disperse, and many did not. Things calmed down before sunset. In the end, five adults and four youth who were arrested, according to police.

Second officer's testimony
In recent weeks, the calls for investigation into the other officers have amplified after a video surfaced showing another officer punching Grant in the face. The officer is believed to be Anthony Pirone.

Ironically, it is Pirone's statements that helped Mehserle get bail.

Pirone, like Mehserle was also put on paid administrative leave following the incident.

According to department training records, Mehserle attended a six hour class for training with the X-26 taser. He passed the taser user certification test on Dec. 3. While he passed the test and was certified, he carried the taser for a dozen shifts and had never used it.

Court documents filed by the defense portray Mehserle as a young, law abiding peace officer, while portraying Grant as an intoxicated hoodlum.

Protestors vow justice
Protestors demonstrated outside the courthouse and in front of the District Attorney's office since the morning time.

"They inside that White House right now," preventing justice said Oakland New Black Panther member Mandingo Hayes referring to the county's courthouse. "I want to go to Santa Rita so I can have access to Mehserle and punch him in the ****ing head."

Referring to the consequences of the former BART officer getting bail, Hayes said, "And they can't say, 'its anarchists, its hoodlums, ohh it's the homeless downtown kids. Cause I'm going to be leading the pact."

Others held signs that said, "Jail all racist killer cops" and "Disarm BART police." Equal disgust surrounding other victims or police brutality were reflected with signs that read, "Justice for Gary King" and others who had pictures of people "killed by law enforcement."

Inside the courthouse, many of those who could not get in the courtroom interrupted the proceedings chanting, "We are Oscar Grant! We are Oscar Grant!"

Orloff, Gee must go
Oakland Minister Keith Muhammad of the Nation of Islam Mosque #26B, upon leaving the courthouse, stated that community members were working on the recall of District Attorney Tom Orloff, and BART police Chief Gary Gee.

"Orloff does not represent the victims," said Muhammad, referring to the numerous cases of police brutality in which police should've been charged. "There is a relationship between the District Attorney and police that offers protection," said Muhammad. Orloff took two weeks from the time Mehserle killed Grant until he had the former officer arrested. "It would've been even longer without the people in the street protesting."

The morning of the Jan. 7th-the initial date where the highly televised uprising took place following a more "peaceful" demonstration at the Fruitvale BART station, one week after the shooting-Muhammad and members of the Black Clergy held a press conference demanding a meeting with Orloff. Orloff had previously refused, but once the clergy, along with Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks and hundreds of others waited outside his office until he agreed to meet with them. Initially, Orloff attempted to divide the group and meet with three representatives, but eventually he let every one in.

A letter of intent has been signed by ten voters, and Orloff must respond by next week. Next, there must be a petition with ten percent of voters in the county to recall the DA.

Muhammad also expressed frustration with Gee, who was recently "discovered to be raising support for Mehserle."

"Gee signed a letter for Mehserle's support and for officers to donate money. Why would he do that? He quit and hasn't been talking to BART," said Muhammad. Mehserle "was insubordinate. He shot [Grant] then says nothing. That is not the reaction of a peace officer nor of a militarized force like BART," suggesting that protocol was not followed.

BART Board members have also expressed their frustration with General Manager Dorothy Dugger and Chief Gee, including board member Lynette Sweet who

Minister of Information JR of the Prisoner's of Consciousness Committee (POCC) attended the demonstration and suggested that "it's not the state acting willfully" that got Mehserle arrested, but "it's the people."

"This didn't just start in '09. It's not unheard of," said JR referring to police shootings, which POCC refers to as "police terrorism." On New Year's Day alone there were two other shootings of unarmed Black people, said JR.

Upcoming actions
Community members who are upset with the killing of Oscar Grant are encouraged to attend the Community Council Townhall Meeting Sat. Jan. 31 from 4-6 p.m. at Olivet Missionary Baptist Church on 27th Street in West Oakland.

Additionally, a call for a Saturday night rally from 6-8 pm at Oakland City Hall has also been called for.

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