An Alameda County Superior Court judge has ruled there is enough evidence to have former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle stand trial on a murder charge for fatally shooting Oscar Grant III.
Cell phone video shows Mehserle, 27, shot 22-year-old Grant once in the back as he lay face down on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station early on New Year's Day. Police had been called to the station to respond to reports of a fight on a train.
The ruling by Judge C. Don Clay came on the seventh day of Mehserle's preliminary hearing.
The judge said in his ruling, "Grant and the others may have been loud, uncooperative and argumentative, but these young men did nothing to warrant the use of deadly force."
Clay clearly wanted to wrap things up Thursday as he began his day with a ruling that barred two final defense witnesses from testifying.
Defense attorney Michael Rains was unhappy with the ruling, stating, "The court is trying to gut our defense."
The defense contends Mehserle meant to fire his Taser gun when he shot Grant in the back with his service weapon on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station early on New Year's Day.
BART police Officer Anthony Pirone testified Wednesday that Mehserle told him just before he shot Grant to "get back" because he was going to use his Taser gun.
Cell phone video at the time of the shooting, shows Pirone was kneeling over Grant, who was face down on the platform.
Pirone said Mehserle appeared to be in shock after the shooting.
Pirone also testified Mehserle told him he believed Grant was reaching for his waistband and had a gun.
Stein had Pirone demonstrate how Mehserle was holding the gun after the shot. Pirone stood up and demonstrated a two-hand grip.
On Wednesday, Stein accused Pirone of exaggerating the facts about the incident to make it appear that he and other officers were in more danger than they actually were and to justify Mehserle shooting Grant.
On Thursday that line of questioning continued. Stein said, "Isn't it true you're only saying that in this courtroom for the very first time because you have now learned what the defense is putting forth as their defense in this case?"
Pirone said if everyone involved in the fight on the BART train that night had cooperated, he would have sent them home.
Stein completed cross-examining Pirone by noon.
The final witness was a video expert who took the court through cell phone videos frame by frame.