Mehserle Jury Seated Without Any Black Jurors

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area
    Oscar Grant, 22, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle after Mehserle and other officers responded to reports that there was a fight on a BART train.

    Late Tuesday, a Los Angeles County judge officially seated a jury in the Johannes Mehserle trial.   The group of eight women and four men were sworn into service at 4 p.m.

    Oscar Grant's family says that the jury does not include a single African American.  Grant's uncle Bobby said he had  "no issue that the jury is all white" adding the "evidence will dictate the decision." 

    Raw Video: Oscar Grant's Uncle Speaks Out

    [BAY] Raw Video: Oscar Grant's Uncle Speaks Out
    Oscar Grant's uncle reacts to the non-African American jury. Grant died after he was shot by BART cop Johannes Mehserly on Jan. 1, 2009.

    But race has been and is expected to continue to be a key component in this already highly charged trial. The trial could be considered the most racially polarizing in California since the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King. That verdict was read in 1992 and lead to days of riots.

    Reporters outside the courthouse said the Grant family and their legal team were visibly upset by the news of the jury's seating. The jury consist of seven Caucasians, four Hispanics, one east Asian. Tuesday was the only day potential jurors were questioned.  They reported to court last week, but went home after filling out a questionnaire.

    Opening statements are scheduled to begin Thursday morning.  Wednesday the lawyers will be in court for final pre-trial hearings.

    Johannes Mehserle is accused of killing Oscar Grant on a Fruitvale BART platform early Jan. 1, 2009. Grant was being detained at the time after reportedly taking part in a fight on the train on its way back from a New Year's Eve celebration in San Francisco.   It's the first time ever in California that a police officer has stood trial in the fatal shooting of a suspect.

    Legal observers say Mehserle's legal team has built some momentum heading into trial and that was ahead of the jury selection.

    They point to two rulings.  First the judge will allow Grant's criminal record to be introduced during the trial. That record includes an earlier case of resisting arrest.  Second, a video expert that says he has spend hundreds of hours analyzing cell phone videos of the shooting will be allowed to be called by the defense. 

    The trial is expected to center of six cell phone videos taken that night that show Mehserle shooting Grant. There is also a never before seen surveillance camera video that will be played at the trial.

    Mehserle has said he thought he was using his Taser when he shot Grant.

    In a pre-trial motion, Merserle's lawyer, Michael Rains wrote, "So, the relevant question in this case turns out to be very simple: Can the state supply proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Mehserle formed an intent to use the gun as opposed to his Taser. (Mehserle's) defense will rather be that he believed Grant might be armed, that Grant continued to resist, and that (Mehserle) properly concluded the appropriate response was to use his Taser."

    Whether the jury believes that will be the key to their verdict in the case.

    Due to pre-trial publicity, the trial is being held in Los Angeles. It's expected to last about a month.