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Story: Independent Coverage of the Johannes Mehserle Trial

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This is the 40th blog post in a collaborative series in partnership with independent media outlets including Oakland Local, KALW, New American Media, Mission Loc@l, Placeblogger, California Beat, The Bay Citizen and The Campanil.

We are incredibly humbled by the community support for this reporting. Coverage will continue when a date is set for sentencing of Johannes Mehserle. For now, we hope you have enjoyed the 40 stories that have come in association with this reporting effort and we cannot thank you enough for making it possible. You can see all the posts at the bottom of this page.

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Still Seeking Justice for Oscar Grant: Los Angeles Takes Next Steps

By Thandisizwe Chimurenga   Members of the Los Angeles Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant appealed to a United States Congresswoman July 19 for support in the continuing effort to secure justice for Grant and his family.   About a dozen members of the group called on Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) to lend her voice to the effort for the U.S. Justice Department to file federal civil rights charges against convicted killer Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle, a former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer, was found guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in the death of Grant by a Los Angeles jury on July 8.    Many people in the Bay Area and elsewhere felt that the verdict was too lenient for the crime, as Grant was unarmed and laying on his stomach when he was shot in the back by Mehserle on an Oakland rail platform Jan. 1, 2009.   Jubilee Shine, a representative of the L.A. Coalition, contends that Mehserle should receive the maximum amount of time possible when he is sentenced Nov. 5 - 14 years total. “We also feel that federal charges of civil rights violations should be filed against him and the other officers that were present on the Fruitvale platform that morning, such as Tony Pirone and Marysol Domenici,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking for Congresswoman Waters’ support.”     The visit to Waters’ office at 2 p.m. coincided with a support rally for Mehserle and all law enforcement officers, called by an unknown individual (http://bit.ly/czusvK) and promoted primarily through Facebook, held at the same time at the Walnut Creek courthouse.     Over 200 representatives of various Bay Area efforts to secure justice for Grant staged a counter demonstration directly in front of the Mehserle supporters at the courthouse on Ygnacio Valley Road. Media reports say that the rally remained peaceful though loudly vocal amid a heavy police presence.   Bay Area Congresswoman Barbara Lee has called for a federal investigation into the Mehserle shooting and the U.S. Justice Department issued a statement on July 9 saying that it had opened an investigation.   According to Shine, Waters contacted him by phone the same day and expressed support for the federal effort. “She told me we would receive a written statement affirming her pledge to publicly encourage the Justice Department to review the case,” he said.    As of July 23 however, the statement had not been made available to the public and April Lawrence, a field representative for Waters, stated that her office was “making inquiries,” but that they did not have a date when the statement would be available.   

External Links

Story blog postings

Sentencing for convicted killer Johannes Mehserle pushed back to later this year.

Sentencing for convicted killer Johannes Mehserle has been pushed back to later this year and his attorney says he will argue for a reduction in sentence when that time comes.

Mehserle is the former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer convicted July 8 of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 22-year old Oscar Grant on an Oakland rail platform Jan. 1, 2009. The trial was moved to Los Angeles County Superior court from Alameda County last fall due to extensive pre-trial publicity and concerns about fairness.

 

Live Blogging - Reaction and Aftermath of Mehserle Verdict

 

Photos of Downtown Oakland before the Verdict

 

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A Collection of Independent Coverage of the Johannes Mehserle Trial

Oscar Grant supportor threatened with arrest for passing out flyers about BART shooting. In the words of Thandisizwe Chimurenga: "Such an astute and disciplined soldier ... i'm proud to know… 

 

Preparing for a Verdict - a Collection of Independent Coverage of the Oscar Grant Trial

Our partnering organizations have been producing all kinds of content through Friday and the weekend. Add it all up and it gives a robust and unique perspective of the Johannes Mehserle trial which is expected to reach a verdict soon. Below is a smattering of coverage from our content partners including Oakland Local and California Beat.

 

Tears Flow as Defense Rests in Mehserle Trial

After 13 days of testimony, the defense rested Tuesday in People v. Johannes Mehserle with the calling of Dr. Thomas Rogers to the stand. A 31-year forensic pathologist and a physician of 40 years, Rogers was wheeled into the courtroom due to a recent surgery on his foot.
   
Defense attorney Michael Rains has argued that Oscar Grant, the 22-year old Hayward man shot and killed by his client, was actively resisting Mehserle’s attempts to handcuff him. Specifically, Rains says that Grant was moving, his left shoulder coming up off the Fruitvale platform floor, at the time he was shot in the back.

 

Historic Trial Nears End

Closing arguments in the case of People v. Johannes Mehserle could be held on Thursday, July 1, 2010. The defense for the former Bay Area Rapid transit officer, accused of the murder of Oscar Grant, is scheduled to call its last witness Tuesday, June 29.

Monday began with the testimony of Greg Meyer, a 20-year police tactical consultant.  Meyer retired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2006 and was called by the defense to offer his expert opinion in arrest procedures.  He is also certified as an M-26 and an X-26 Taser instructor.  The X-26 is the model that was carried by Johannes Mehserle on Jan. 1, 2009.

 

New footage released shows Oscar Grant shooting

Video footage showing the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting of unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant by a former BART Police Officer that has never before been viewed outside of a courtroom was publicly released by the Los Angeles County Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

 

Mehserle trial: The Accused Takes The Stand

Day 10 of the People vs. Mehserle trial ended June 24 with defendant Johannes Mehserle taking the stand.

Mehserle, a former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer, is accused of murder in the death of Oscar Grant, who was shot in the back while prone at an Oakland rail station on New Year’s Day 2009.

Defense attorney Michael Rains’ first sought to humanize his client, asking about his family life and what he was voted "most" in high school:  Mehserle said he was voted “Most Huggable."

 

Prosecution rests in Mehserle trial; BART train operator downplays severity of fight

The prosecution in the second-degree murder trial against former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle — who shot and killed unarmed passenger Oscar Grant on the Fruitvale BART station platform January 1, 2009 — rested its case late Monday.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Stein called five witnesses — three of them BART employees  — to the stand Monday and played a synchronized video showing the incident as captured from six different angles by bystanders and a security camera side by side.

 

Former BART Officers Wrap up Last Week's Testimony in Oscar Grant Case

Testimony in the trial of former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer Johannes Mehserle concluded Friday with the appearances of former officers Marysol Domenici and Anthony Pirone.

Both officers were fired by BART last spring based on recommendations from a private firm that investigated the shooting.

 

Interview with Reporter Thandisizwe and New American Media

Journalist Thandisizwe Chimurenga provides the latest update on the Johannes Mehserle murder trial.  The former transit officer is charged with the New Years Day 2009 killing of Oscar Grant III at an Oakland subway station.

This part of a reporter from New American Media, a partnering organization in our ongoing coverage. You can listen to the specific interview with Thandisizwe here.

 

Former BART officer describes what happened morning Grant was shot

Former BART Police Officer Marysol Domenici, whose role in the events leading up to the shooting of unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant by former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle has sparked controversy, took the witness stand Thursday in Mehserle’s second-degree murder trial.

Domenici was one of the first officers to respond to the Fruitvale BART station in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009, working with fellow former BART Police Officer Anthony Pirone to detain Grant and his friends on the platform after reports of an altercation on the train.

 

Pirone Expected After Delay in Trial

The fifth day of testimony in the murder trial of Johannes Mehserle resumes Thursday, June 17, after a state-mandated furlough day on Wednesday, June 16, with former BART Officer Anthony “Tony” Pirone scheduled to take the stand.

Pirone, the first officer to arrive on the Fruitvale Station platform the morning of Jan. 1, 2009, was fired by the agency in April 2010, based on recommendations from a private firm that had been hired to investigate Mehserle’s shooting of an unarmed and prone Oscar Grant.

 

Firearms in the spotlight as Mehserle murder trial continues

Firearms training was in the spotlight Tuesday as experts testified that movements made by former BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle to release the weapon holstered at his right hip were inconsistent with the proper way to draw a gun.

Mehserle is charged with second degree murder for fatally shooting unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009.

 

Oscar Grant Protest at the LA Courthouse

 

Friend of Grant’s cries on stand as video of incident played back

A young friend of Oscar Grant broke down in tears on the witness stand today as video he filmed of Grant’s shooting by former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle was played for a Los Angeles jury.

And multiple witnesses who took the stand on the second day of Mehserle’s second-degree murder trial said Grant did not resist arrest before the former officer shot him.

 

Emotional Opening to Mehserle Murder Trial

California Beat produced an opening day story as well which you can view here. You can also support their work by donating to this pitch

The following story was written by Thandisizwe Chimurenga

Alameda County’s District Attorney gave an evocative opening statement in the murder trial of Johannes Mehserle Thursday, June 10.   

 

A Cursory Look at Some of the Issues of the Johannes Mehserle Trial

 OPINION

The People v. Mehserle began in Los Angeles on June 10, 2010.  The waters have been somewhat muddied, however, due to much of the mainstream media coverage surrounding this case.

FIVE:  MEDIA MATTERS

 

Photo of Mehserle holding Taser surfaces as judge denies defense motions to exclude evidence from trial

The prosecution in the second-degree murder trial of former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle will be allowed to present into evidence a cell phone photo Oscar Grant took which depicts Mehserle holding a Taser moments before pulling out his gun and shooting Grant.

The image can be presented due to a ruling Judge Robert Perry made to permit Grant’s girlfriend, who received the photo, to testify.

 

Jury Set, Defense Seeking to Exclude Video in Mehserle Murder Trial

What began as a two-day selection process ended Tuesday afternoon with eight women and four men being sworn in as jurors in the murder trial of Johannes Mehserle. The former transit officer is charged with the New Year’s Day 2009 killing of Oscar Grant III, 22, at an Oakland subway station.

 

California vs. Mehserle: Historic Oakland Trial Begins in LA This Week

Mehserle_on_trial_medium

The jury in the People of the State of California v. Johannes Mehserle will be whittled down to 18 people this week. 

The process of voir dire is scheduled to conclude Wednesday June 9 by choosing 12 jurors and 6 alternates.  Those individuals will hear opening arguments in the historic case the following day, June 10.

 

Links to Coverage of the Mehserle Trail

 

Extraordinary steps taken to protect jurors as Mehserle trial begins

Jury selection in the second-degree murder trial of former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who shot unarmed passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009, began this morning amidst extraordinary steps to protect the privacy of jurors.

After a brief conversation with the attorneys on pre-trial matters, Judge Robert Perry began the jury selection process by reminding the audience to refrain from showing emotions in court or trying to contact jurors, saying that he intended the trial to be a “quiet and dignified search for the truth.”

 

Grant family lawyer Burris under gag order; defense video expert to testify

The judge in the second-degree murder trial of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART Police officer who shot unarmed passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009, ruled today that the testimony of a key defense expert witness would be allowed at trial.

Judge Robert Perry also ruled that Grant family attorney John Burris is subject to the gag order covering trial participants, even though he is unlikely to be called as a witness in the trial.

 

Grant family attorney asks Mehserle judge to block defense testimony request

The attorney for BART shooting victim Oscar Grant’s family has filed a request to be removed from the potential witness list of the defense for Johannes Mehserle, the former BART Police officer charged with second-degree murder in the shooting.

Mehserle’s defense attorney, Michael Rains, had asked to subpoena Grant family attorney John Burris, saying that Burris could provide “testimony concerning threats or intimidation” of witnesses who “may be reluctant to give testimony which would ostensibly be helpful to Mr. Mehserle and harmful to Mr. Grant.”

 

Prosecution may have Pirone extradited to testify in Mehserle trial

The prosecution in the trial of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART Police officer charged with second-degree murder for the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting of passenger Oscar Grant, has filed a request to compel former BART Police Officer Tony Pirone, who now lives in North Carolina, to travel to Los Angeles to testify in the case.

In the request, dated May 4 and made public this week, prosecutor Scott Jackson calls Pirone a “necessary and material” witness for the prosecution’s case and requests that he be present between June 7 and June 25.

 

Final Rulings Expected; Burris Seeks Relief, Pirone’s Presence Requested

What may be the final pre-trial hearing for Johannes Mehserle, charged with the murder of 22-year old Oscar Grant, will take place Tuesday, June 1, at 9 am in downtown Los Angeles.  At that time Judge Robert Perry is scheduled to rule on a motion requesting that attorney John Burris be removed from the list of potential witnesses that the defense intends to call during the trial.

 

Johannes Mehserle Trial Coverage Meeting next Thursday

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Join the California Beat and The Campanil newspaper to learn more about and to help fund comprehensive daily news coverage of the Johannes Mehserle BART shooting trial starting in June in Los Angeles.

 

A Cursory Look at Some of the Issues of the Johannes Mehserle Trial

The May 7 hearing for Johannes Mehserle, the former transit cop who killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day of 2009, settled several key issues prior to the beginning of the trial scheduled for June 2010.  The waters have been somewhat muddied, however, due to much of the media coverage surrounding this case, both before and after the May 7 hearing. 

FOUR:  ATTORNEYS AND CLIENTS AND PRIVILEGES

 

A Cursory Look at Some of the Issues of the Johannes Mehserle Trial

OPINION

The May 7 hearing for Johannes Mehserle, the former transit cop who killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day of 2009, settled several key issues prior to the beginning of the trial scheduled for June 2010.  The waters have been somewhat muddied, however, due to much of the media coverage surrounding this case, both before and after the May 7 hearing. 

ONE:  Did Johannes Mehserle “Shoot" and "Kill” Oscar Grant?

 

A Cursory Look at Some of the Issues of the Johannes Mehserle Trial - 3

OPINION

The May 7 hearing for Johannes Mehserle, the former transit cop who killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day of 2009, settled several key issues prior to the beginning of the trial scheduled for June 2010.  The waters have been somewhat muddied, however, due to much of the media coverage surrounding this case, both before and after the May 7 hearing. 

THREE: POLICE PRIVILEGE

 

A Cursory Look at Some of the Issues of the Johannes Mehserle Trial - 2

OPINION

The May 7 hearing for Johannes Mehserle, the former transit cop who killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day of 2009, settled several key issues prior to the beginning of the trial scheduled for June 2010.  The waters have been somewhat muddied, however, due to much of the media coverage surrounding this case, both before and after the May 7 hearing. 

Two:  Oscar Grant’s “Criminal Past”

Was taser use justified? Critical questions in Mehserle trial

The judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney in the Johnannes Mehserle trial for the killing of Oscar Grant agreed in pre-trial hearings today that much of the subtle nuance of the case would hinge on two questions:

Was the use of a taser justified in this incident? and What was the nature and quality of Grant's resistance  on the platform and was it an issue?

During the pre-trail hearing, Judge Robert Perry ruled on numerous motions introduced by the defenses attorney and the prosecution. Among the rulings today:   Thandisizwe Chimurenga | 07 May 2010

 

Johannes Mehserle trial: Breaking news from pre-trial hearing

Thandisizwe Chimurenga is in the courtroom at the May 7th pretrial hearing in Los Angeles today for  Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer, charged with murder in the killing of an unarmed passenger, Oscar Grant.  Chimurenga will be filing a story later today, but some highlights of the hearing include the following information:

  • The judge did not accept defense lawyer Michael Rain's request that Mehserle, who resigned from the BART force after this shooting, be addressed as Officer Mehserle.  He also denied a request to only call Oscar Grant by his name, and will allow him to be called the victim, but not the murder victim, since murder had not been proven as of yet.
  • The judge also agreed to allow expert witnesses discuss taser usage, but also heard a motion from the prosecutor that introduced the idea that even tasering Oscar Grant represented excessive force, as he was prone and face down on the platform with three officers around him.

Thandisizwe Chimurenga  will file a full story later today. This is part of a series funded by partners including Oakland Local, New American Media, KALW and Placeblogger.

 

Mehserle trial: Rains asks to remove first-degree murder conviction option; pre-trial hearing set for May 7th

A fourth and possibly final pre-trial hearing for Johannes Mehserle is scheduled for May 7 at 8:30 a.m.  At that time Judge Robert Perry is expected to issue his ruling on some or all of several briefs recently filed by both the defense and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office.

LA County Court House, morguefile.com
Included among those briefs is a 103-page motion on instructions for homicide cases in which Mehserle’s attorney Michael Rains wants the court to instruct the jury to either convict Mehserle of murder in the second degree or acquit him. Attorney Michael Rains, in voluminous pretrial filings, argues that his client did not commit first-degree murder and is asking a Los Angeles judge to instruct the jury In other words, Rains wants to remove the option of a first-degree murder conviction from the trial.

 

A front seat at the Mehserle murder trial

It's been over a year since the tragic death of Oscar Grant.  He was shot by a BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle, on New Year's Day 2009.  The incident was caught on tape by many BART riders and sparked protests throughout the region, like one on January 7 when angry demonstrators took to the streets of Oakland and squared off against riot police. Spot. Us | 30 Apr 2010

 

Tracking the Mehserle Trial

 

Hearing for Oscar Grant shooter moves trial start date to June 1st as attorneys joust in court

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The criminal trial of former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle will begin about a week earlier than originally scheduled.  Judge Robert Perry moved the date to June 1 at a third preliminary hearing in downtown Los Angeles this afternoon, March 26, 2010.  Both the district attorney’s office and the defense hope they will be able to send the case to the jury prior to July 4 although there are no guarantees.

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