Jurors Friday began deliberating the fate of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who is on trial for murder for fatally shooting unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station in Oakland last year.
The seven-woman, five-man panel only deliberated for two hours and 20 minutes Friday before going home for the holiday weekend, and the jurors will resume their work Tuesday morning.
Prosecutor David Stein and defense attorney Michael Rains completed their closing arguments Friday morning, and then Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry gave them lengthy legal instructions.
Jurors began deliberating at 1:40 p.m. and went home at 4 p.m.
Rains has admitted that Mehserle shot and killed Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, on the platform at the Fruitvale station shortly after 2 a.m. Jan. 1, 2009, after he and other officers responded to a report that there was a fight on a train.
But Rains claims the shooting was an accident and Mehserle, 28, who's free on $3 million bail, meant to use his Taser stun gun on Grant.
On Wednesday, Perry said jurors will have the option of convicting Mehserle of second-degree murder or the lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Jurors will also have the option of finding Mehserle not guilty of all charges.
The legal instructions Perry presented today explained the differences between the various types of homicide charges the jurors will consider.
The trial was moved away from Alameda County because of concerns Mehserle would be unable get a fair trial due to the extensive publicity the fatal shooting received and the passions it aroused in the community.
Back in Oakland, Mayor Ron Dellums and other community leaders held a news conference at Youth Uprising at 8711 MacArthur Blvd. to call for unity, peace and justice as the city awaits the verdict in Mehserle's trial.
"We are calling on every person in our community to stand together, united in our commitment to bring peace to our streets and economic opportunity to our neighborhoods," Dellums said in a statement.
He said, "We acknowledge the anger and frustration that arises with the tragic loss of life in our community. That emotion needs to be expressed constructively and peacefully."
Dellums said community leaders are encouraging people to channel their emotions in positive ways.
He said community leaders also are discussing what other options are being considered no matter what the verdict is, such as a proposed federal civil rights investigation.
Among those who joined Dellums at the news conference were youth group leaders, faith leaders, business leaders and other elected officials.
The Oakland Police Department said in a statement that, "We anticipate protests following the reading of the verdict and have heard of possible outside agitation in an attempt to turn the peaceful movement into acts of civil unrest."
It said it has trained officers, shifted resources and identified mutual aid options from other law enforcement agencies in order to prepare for any problems.