Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ineffective Prosecution in Oscar Grant Murder Case

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

To mar the day of Barack Obama’s historic inauguration as the first African-American President of the United States, Oscar Grant was shot in the back by BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California.

Officers had been called in to quell a disturbance on the train, in which several youth were engaged in a fight, after a night of New Year’s revelry. Tensions escalated after the officers arrived and tried to take control of the situation. When Grant attempted to act as peacemaker, Officer Tony Pirone shouted racial slurs and ordered the young man arrested. Grant was wrest to the ground, face down, and restrained, when Officer Mehserle rose, drew his gun, and nonchalantly fired, pointblank, into the back of Grant. The young man died a couple of hours later at a local hospital, January 1, 2009.

The entire incident was video recorded by several bystanders, from several different angles. It is obvious to us that the unarmed Oscar Grant was murdered in cold blood. After public outrage, Johannes Mehserle resigned, fled to Nevada, and was later arrested, charged, and tried.

However, if the wheel of Justice grinds every so slowly, then in the case of Oscar Grant, it ground to a halt, because on Thursday, July 8, 2010, a Los Angeles jury found Mehserles guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and not guilty of second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 6 and could range from probation to 5-14 years in prison. In the meantime, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is looking into the case.


Bringing Mehserles to justice took almost an act of congress, because there appeared no desire to pursue an internal investigation the incident, though 5 or 6 officers were present on the scene at the time. It was not until video of the shooting began to circulate to the outside world that the blue wall of silence and cover-up was breached. Another innocent black man was dead, one of several, in the post election of Barack Obama.

On January 8, 2010, after failing to get BART to investigate the incident, Eddie Griffin (BASG) sent the following letter to the Board of Directors.

BART Board of Directors
P.O. Box 12688
Oakland , CA 94604-2688
(510) 464-6095

c/o Kenneth A. Duron
District Secretary
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District
300 Lakeside Drive, 23rd Floor, Oakland, California 94612
510.464.6080, fax: 510.464.6011

To Directors: Carole Ward Allen, Bob Franklin, Joel Keller, Gail Murray, John McPartland, Thomas Blalock, Lynette Sweet, James Fang, Tom Radulovich

[Excerpted] We contacted your office on yesterday about the unprovoked shooting of 22-year old Oscar Grant in Fruitvale, Lake Merritt & 12th Street Station in Oakland... There is prima facie evidence, by these videos, that shows Officer Johannes Mehserle shot a defenseless man in the back while he was constrained… There is a compelling probable cause that the officer murdered the victim. As you know this video was offered to the police department investigators. Instead of immediately arresting the officer, BART put him in hiding… We are not seeking lynch mob justice before due process run its course… If you can watch this video also and come away feeling that your department acted appropriately, do realize there is a strong possibility the unrest will continue, and more arrests is not the solution. The city has brought this curse upon itself… Sincerely, Eddie Griffin

Acknowledgement & Response from BART

Subject: Re: Unprovoked Shooting of Oscar Grant
Date: Tuesday, January 6, 2009, 4:28 PM

Mr. Griffin,

Thank you for your email. Your message will be shared with the Board of Directors as requested.

The following is a link to the District's webpage with news releases/video regarding the officer involved shooting on January 1, 2009.

Thank you for taking the time to advise us of your concerns.

Kenneth A. Duron
District Secretary
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District
300 Lakeside Drive, 23rd Floor, Oakland, California 94612
510.464.6080, fax: 510.464.6011, email:

A Petition for Redress of Grievance

There were riots in the Bay area in the aftermath of Grant’s murder. There were riots following the Mehserle jury verdict, despite the many calls for peace and calm. As we said before, we were not looking for “lynch mob justice”, but due process and justice mete for the crime.

Our reliance upon the courts is very disappointing, because it is justice by contrast: White officer versus Black suspect. The benefit of doubt goes to the officer instead of the victim. Had African-Americans been included on the jury, the verdict might have been different. But it reverts back to the fact that the district attorney had no heart for the case to begin with.

A recent article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram alludes to an old practice in Texas courtrooms called “stacking the jury”. The jury selection process (voir dire) is not always fair and honest, and verdicts are not always what justice requires.


Although everybody in Mississippi and the rest of the world knew Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam tortured and murdered an innocent 14-year old named Emmitt Till in Money, Mississippi, on August 8, 1955, though the all-white jury was presented with firsthand eyewitness testimony, they still found the two Not Guilty.

If there were any benefit of doubt, then surely it was removed when the two gave an interview to Look Magazine in January 1956, providing the harrowing details of the torture and murder. By the law of Double Jeopardy, they could not be tried again at the time, which led to the Justice Department to include Murder as a violation of Civil Rights, especially when murder is carried out Under the Color of Law, by a law enforcement official.

[Oscar Grant was only one of several black men shot and killed immediately following the election of Barack Obama, reminiscent of the night that Jack Johnson won the heavyweight championship of the world.]

No comments:

Post a Comment