BART Officer Johannes Mehserle Testifies in Oscar Grant Civil Trial

By Lisa Fernandez, NBC Bay Area Staff and Wire Services
|  Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014  |  Updated 5:53 PM PDT
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The former California transit officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on a train platform in 2009 said he disagreed with a jury's verdict convicting him of involuntary manslaughter. NBC Bay Area's Nanette Miranda reports.

The former California transit officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on a train platform in 2009 said he disagreed with a jury's verdict convicting him of involuntary manslaughter. NBC Bay Area's Nanette Miranda reports.

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Mehserle Civil Trial Set to Begin

Johannes Mehserle is set to take the stand in the civil trial linked to the shooting death of Oscar Grant. Derek Shore reports.
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The former California transit officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on a train platform in 2009 said he disagreed with a jury's verdict convicting him of involuntary manslaughter.

Johannes Mehserle, the former San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer, was called to the witness stand Wednesday to testify in a civil trial stemming from a lawsuit Grant's father has filed.

Grant's father is suing BART, Mehserle and others over the shooting. Mehserle said he accidentally used his gun when he meant to use his Taser.

Mehserle paused for several seconds when he was asked whether he agreed with the jury's verdict, which led to his serving about a year in a jail. After answering no, Mehserle wasn't asked any follow-up questions about the verdict.

Mehserle was given credit for time served and released in June 2011. The trial began on Monday.

Mehserle is one of the defendants in a lawsuit stemming from the fatal shooting of Grant at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland – a shooting that is now known around the world because much of it was captured on witness cell phone video and turned into a movie, “Fruitvale Station.”

The suit, filed in August 2009 on behalf of Grant's father -- Oscar Grant Jr. -- by attorney, Waakeen McCoy, claims Grant’s violation of civil rights were violated, and asks for unspecified damages.

"He’s a parent," McCoy said outside court Wednesday. "He just lost his son. He lost his son and under the 14th Amendment, he has a right to collect damages for someone depriving him of a familial relationship."

In court, McCoy played the infamous cell phone video that captured Grant’s killing on a BART platform.

McCoy has previously written the court to ask that Grant's father be allowed to be released from prison in Vacaville on his murder conviction so that he can participate as a plaintiff in the trial. The suit also claims that Mehserle deprived Grant Jr. of his "familial relationship" with his son.

Grant Jr. was convicted in the 1985 killing of Anthony Epps, 24, who was murdered while watching TV at his Oakland home.

The 22-year-old Grant was unarmed and lying face down on New Year's morning, 2009, when Mehserle fired a gun at him, killing him. Mehserle testified at his criminal trial that he had shot Grant accidentally because he thought he had pulled out his Taser, not his utility weapon.

BART, BART’s chief of police Gary Gee, and BART officers Anthony Pirone and Marysol Domenici are also named in the federal suit.

Mehserle is being represented by high-profile attorney Michael Rains, who expressed disappointment Wednesday that the two sides were unable to resolve the case through a settlement.

"I think it opens up wounds with Mehserle and his family, opens wounds throughout the community, wounds I'd like to see healed," Rains said. "It opens up wounds for the law enforcement community, for BART, and Oakland Police.  I'm just sorry we have to do this."

In 2009, attorney John Burris filed a federal civil rights suit on behalf of Grant III's mother, Wanda Johnson, as well as Sophina Mesa, who was Grant's girlfriend and is raising the couple's 4-year-old daughter.

In May, BART agreed to pay $175,000 to settle another federal civil rights lawsuit filed by five men who said they were detained with Grant for no reason.

Derek Shore, Nannette Miranda, Jodi Hernandez, Shelby Hansen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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