GUILTY - BUT NOT AS CHARGED
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Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Officer Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, a parolee whose unruly behavior prompted a police response to the Oakland BART Station last year.
The jury has obviously adopted the defense theory - that Officer Mehserle, acting in the heat of the moment, mistakenly drew his firearm, instead of his newly-issued TASER. The other option, consistent with mistake, would have been voluntary manslaughter, which is triggered (no pun intended) by the eruption of a sudden quarrel or anger. A second degree murder was also rejected by the jury, telling us that the twelve fact-finders did not find that the killing was done with any malice...racial or otherwise.
Oakland, California is a dangerous city-on-edge, with a population containing angry citizens of all races and backgrounds who are fed up with crime, and who are deeply worried about impending budget cuts that would eviscerate its police department. The BART Police department is a separate agency, reporting to the Oakland Port Authority. The trial was moved to LA on a change of venue motion.
It would be tragically inappropriate for "Oaktown' to erupt in an orgy of violence and protests over this verdict. There will be no national "Rodney King" moment here. This was not a racially motivated execution.
Justice was done.
The defendant's sentencing hearing is next.