Mehserle Makes Bail, Released From Jail

Ex-Bart Cop accused of killing Oscar Grant

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Johannes Mehserle has been released from jail after paying 10 percent of the $3 million bail amount in order to be released.

    Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson says Johannes Mehserle posted bail around 3:45 p.m. Friday at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. He had been in custody since his Jan. 13 arrest.

    A small group of protesters gathered soon after outside Oakland City Hall. Jeff Thomason of the Oakland Police Department described the gathering as a "peaceful protest."

    Thomason said the department had been in communication with the Santa Rita Jail so that when Mehserle had been released, they could prepare for the ensuing protests.

    Mayor Ron Dellums' office released the following statement:

    "The important thing to remember is that the wheels of justice are now in motion. Johannes Mehserle was charged with murder. He will receive due process under the law, and this process will run its course. In the meantime, I am calling for peace in our streets. We must treat each other and our city with respect and dignity while the outcome of this case is determined by judge and jury. We are one community, and we must come together to call for justice and act in a nonviolent and respectful manner so our voices may be heard."

    Protestors took to the streets last week in frustration over the decision to allow him bail. Dozens of armed police officers and protesters clashed last week.

    The New Year's Day shooting of Oscar Grant has outraged residents and led to several protests.

    Click here to see Mehserle's motion for bail (PDF)

    The transit officer who shot and killed an unarmed man may have also mistakenly pulled his service pistol instead of a stun gun, according to documents filed by his lawyer.

    Attorney Michael Rains made the argument in urging a judge to grant bail to 27-year-old Mehserle. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson heard the motion.

    "He fired the taser, or so he thought," said Rains. "the taser he had been trained on three weeks earlier for six hours. That was the taser he fired."

    Mehserle pleaded not guilty to one count of murder in the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was killed early New Year's Day. Cell phone videos of the incident, widely viewed on the Internet, show the officer standing over Grant as he was lying facedown on a train platform and firing one shot into the man's back.

    Grant died of the gunshot wound to his torso.

    "(Mehserle) chose to use lethal force when it clearly was not called for," said Jacobson.

    But in a court filing, Rains said witness accounts indicate that Mehserle meant to draw his Taser, but instead pulled his pistol. The lawyer blamed inexperience by the young officer, who passed his Taser user certification test on Dec. 3.

    "The bulk of the discovery, including witness and officer statements, seem to indicate that this young officer, who carried a taser for only a few shifts prior to this event, may have mistakenly deployed his service pistol rather than his taser, thus negating any criminal intent," Rains wrote.

    The court documents contain statements from and reports by several officers who were on the platform with Mehserle at the time of the shooting. The officers -- who had just pulled several men, including Grant, from a Bay Area Rapid Transit train after reports of fighting -- described the scene as chaotic and confusing.

    According to a statement from Officer Tony Pirone, Mehserle told Grant to stop resisting and put his hands behind his back. Then, according to Pirone's statement, Mehserle said: "I'm going to tase him, I'm going to tase him. I can't get his arms. He won't give me his arms. His hands are going for his waistband."

    Mehserle then told Pirone to move, before firing the shot.

    Pirone said he didn't know if Grant was armed, but said Mehserle told him he had believed Grant may have been armed.

    "Tony, I thought he was going for a gun," Mehserle said, according to Pirone's statement.

    Family members of the man who died, Oscar Grant III, say they would be outraged if Mehserle is released. The family asked that information regarding the trust fund be made public. Here it is:

    Tatiana Grant Trust Fund
    Acct # 3879027641
    Wells Fargo Bank, 950 Southland Dr. Hayward 94545

    Security had been heightened around the courthouse. Officials restricted access to the hearing to a handful of media and a few of Grant and Mehserle's family and friends. Only seven reporters were granted access to the courtroom.

    BART has turned over its internal affairs investigation of officers involved in the shooting to an independent third party.
     
    "It's imperative that we determine whether the actions of those  officers on the platform violated the policies and practices of the BART  Police Department," BART board member Carole Ward Allen, who chairs the new BART police review committee, said in a statement.

    Ward Allen said the board hoped "an independent, outside investigation" would reassure the public "that we are transparent and  accountable."

    The internal affairs investigation is separate from the criminal investigation being conducted by the Alameda County District Attorney's  Office on the former BART officer.

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